25 November 2008

Brains by Jesus. Body by Fisher.


Birthmark borne by every native of Detroit.

Greg:

I did something in public this morning that left me ashamed, yet elated. (No, not that! Get our mind out of the adult aisle!) I was bewitched by a beautiful black Cadillac Deville and followed it about twenty blocks beyond my place of work. I'm in the office now, under the watchful eye of my boss, and safely away from any windows where someone might identify me from the street. Or where I may, God forbid, see another beautiful automobile and lose control of myself.

Look, this does not make me some kinda weirdo. Or a stalker. (Well, yeah actually by definition it does. -Ed.) I just have to come to grips with the fact that I really love cars and start feeling okay about it.

I also have to pay attention to who I'm following. That Deville could've been driven by a very strong man with a very large gun and a very small sense of humor. If I'd've pissed him off a little too much by following him too far, I could be writing this blog post through a straw right now. (Practice this line in the event that the driver exits the vehicle and approaches you: "That's a sweet ride you got there...sir." -Ed.)

But first, can I take just a moment to address the current issue with The Big Three automakers flying to Washington on their private jets to look for a handout from Congress? For the record: fuck those guys. And furthermore, fuck those guys. They need to give up their fat-ass salaries and spend a week on the swing shift at GM with the shop rats and bloody their knuckles on a goddamn wrench before they'll get my respect or my money. Take their bonuses and distribute them between the good people working the line. As a matter of fact, let one of the folks who work in the plant go to Congress, pick up the check, and make up their minds about what oughtta be done about the situation.

Now, moving on...

At present, I'm conflicted. While I'm not 100% "green", I consider myself at the very least "green curious". On one hand, cars burn gas which creates carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and cigarette fumes, all which lead to a global condition which will eventually parboil us all out of existence. Or so Wikipedia tells me.

On the other hand, cars - the well-designed ones at least - are a moving art form, a perfect marriage of technology and design that makes the ten-year-old in me go vroom vroom vroom! Yay! Vroom! I swear, every once in a while I see something like, say, the brilliantly designed, well-powered, gracefully accelerating - obsidian-black haunches...glistening I tell you! - Deville in question that makes me practically gob on my shirt. Seriously.

Is it because we grew up near the auto center of the world? Or is it because our dad has ethyl for blood? Or is it because it is a universal and unimpeachable truth that CARS ARE OSSUM! VROOM VROOM VROOM! YAY! VROOM! YAY?

I make my case for the assertions above with the examples below:



1969 Pontiac GTO
Remember when we lived on Chippewa Street in Pontiac? (Remember how they name everything in Michigan after Indians? -Ed.) Remember Ruth McLay's mom? They lived on Navajo. (I rest my case. -Ed.) She had one of these. Even though it wasn't tricked out (it was the "mom" edition), you could tell that it was Blood of Champion. That friggin' thing ROARED from the front door to the Kroger and back in no time flat. I always wanted to steal it. I had a slim jim and I was good to go, but I was six and I couldn't reach the pedals. PS: The tach is on the hood! I don't know if that's good, bad, smart, dumb or what - but it's COOL!


1973 BMW 2002
I had one back in the '90s and wept when I let it go. It had all the torque of a wee mountain goat and a full metal dash that would turn your brain to mayonnaise in the event of a low-speed collision. Fun mandatory. Seatbelts optional.


2007 Dodge Charger Super Bee
I can feel you judging me already. "Greaser!" you spit with scorn. "Spawn of hillbillies!
Trash blanc! " But before you cast the first stone - hold, I say unto thee! Who among you gathered here present experienced the monumental, face-bleaching thrust and vertiginous acceleration of the soon-to-be-legendary 368HP Dodge hemi? (Wait - You in the back. You have? And you didn't care for it? Well fuck you, hippie.)


2008 Toyota Tacoma w/Sport Package.
Duh.


1947 Chrysler Town and Country Woody Four Door Hard Top
Of course I had to mention the family car. From a purely technical standpoint, it was underpowered. But from a design standpoint - shit, it was so curvy it almost had bosoms! Maple beams and mahogany veneer - must've been a Steinway Grand
in a previous life. I remember no greater joy of my childhood than road trips and camping excursions taken in this car.

Shit. Here comes my boss. Gotta mop up some spit.

Cheers, and back on the freeway which is already in progress.

-Thaddeus

20 October 2008

Bruce Lee's Other Student


My Sensei, Eddie Hart (at far left) back in the 1960s when he was a student of Bruce Lee.
At right is Jesse Glover, Lee's other famous student. Eddie died of emphysema in 2005.

Photo credit: Bruce Lee.


Greg:

You're probably wondering why I haven't been writing. Well it's because I've been writing. You already know that I write all goddamn day at work. Now I have two other things: one extracurricular project, and one writing class. That means I have to write all the more. Were it not for the fact that I'm about to just cut and paste what I've been working on in my writing class for the past couple of weeks, I probably wouldn't be making this post at all.

I'm taking a class in first person storytelling from David Schmader at Richard Hugo House. It's six weeks long and totally worth $195 and skipping the last two hours of your workday each Wednesday if you can swing it. And like I said, I'd love to chat more right now but instead I'm gonna just let you read this excerpt from the essay I've been working on for class. Why? Because I'm a bitch-ass lazy punk who tries to find the easy way out of everything. That is when he's not writing like some kind of hypergraphia-fueled nutbag. The assignment for the next class was to write a 500-word chunk of the essay from anywhere you feel like starting. Anyway, enjoy. -Thaddeus

PS: There's no title. Suffer. -TRG

My sensei Eddie Hart used to videotape all of his student’s progress. Week 1: there’s Thaddeus, getting his ass kicked. Week 2: there’s Thaddeus, getting his ass kicked, but not quite so bad. Week 3: there’s Thaddeus getting his ass kicked, but at least he’s looking good. His arms are getting definition, his strikes more precise, and his falls are more controlled, even though he’s on the edge of consciousness.


On the other hand, his sparring partner, Ted Hart, Ed's son, looks great – all six feet six inches of him. He works in a vacuum, undistracted, his focus impermeable. It’s because he’s a second dan. And he’s as deaf as granite. Got mumps when he was thirteen. The last music he remembers is Boston. I often wonder if it’s an unimaginable torture to get “More Than A Feeling” stuck in your head if there’s no competing sound to offset it. Oddly enough, I wonder this while Ted’s fists are crashing down on my head. It distracts me from the pain.


Three punch combinations land in rhythm – boom boom clap, boom boom clap, boom boom clap. I throw my hand up in front of my face to make the sign for “stop”. Ted’s fist connects with the back of my hand and I punch myself in the face. Eddie calls a stop. I’m beat, but I’m not angry or ashamed. I’m just beat.


Eddie takes me aside to work with me on three punch combinations. He’s supposed to block my first two, and I’m supposed to let the third fly harmlessly past his left ear. We do this for fifteen minutes straight. I get tired. I start thinking about how the boom boom clap sounds like Queen’s “We Will Rock You” and whether it would be a good thing or a bad thing if I got punched in the ears and went deaf and got that song jammed in my head for all eternity. I get sloppy, and put a stiff right square on the center of Eddie’s upper lip. His head snaps back and he looks at me in amazement.


“No one has ever hit me that hard in anger,” he says. I wait for a reciprocal right cross from the guy who used to spar with Bruce Lee. Instead he turns and addresses the rest of the dojo.


“Anyone wanna to spar with an amateur?” he asks. The rest of the fighters bawl dissent. He turns back to me. “Go home and don’t come back until I tell you that you can come back.”


When I first interviewed at the dojo and Eddie went on a tear about how he knew Bruce Lee, I thought he was just stacking bullshit to impress me before he named some exorbitant price for his own exclusive method of instruction. It seems that everybody in Seattle who was anywhere near martial arts in 1964 claims to have known Bruce Lee. Turns out there are only two people in Seattle who were in Bruce Lee’s dojo back then. One of them is Jessie Glover, the first martial arts instructor ever certified by Bruce Lee. The other one broke out his old snapshots so he could show me him and Bruce out at dinner, him and Bruce at his wedding, him and Bruce slapping the holy hell out of each other, all of this while chattering excitedly and smoking hand-rolled shag while wearing street shoes in the dojo. Then he got out all his clippings from Black Belt magazine, articles he had written about The Little Dragon back in the day.


Somewhere along the line we finally got to talking about kickboxing, more specifically jeet kune do, and even more specifically chi sao, the “sticking hands” technique, and pretty soon Eddie’s asking me to take a shot at him. I mean here’s this guy, a chain smoker, who is about as big around as a butt thermometer, who looks like he’s gonna cack if so much as a cat fart even glances him, and he’s asking the 27-year-old, very-much-in-shape me to take a swing. Happy to oblige, I put up my dukes and fire away.


My hand never makes it anywhere near him. It gets blocked so far away so fast that my shoulder gets torqued all bass-ackwards. I am now convinced that this man can show me at least one thing about martial arts.


09 September 2008

The Deepest Secrets Of The Greg Revealed!


A Gargling(tm) of the term "deepest secrets" produces this trippy-ass image as a result.
It is rumored that The Greg lives in the basement of such a pyramid.

People:

Greg - as in
the Greg, the one these letters are written to, not the noun Greg nor the verb, nor the infinitive "to Greg" - yeah, him. Well -

I have a hard time starting some mornings. Bear with.

Those stupid little questions that they ask you when you build your profile on a social networking site? The ones the writers (or Tom) work so hard to make clever, entertaining, provocative and revealing, yet fail so miserably? Greg tackled the tough ones and came out with - I think - flying colors.

And strangely enough, though his answers were so flip that standing near them would get you bitch-slapped, they are at the same time strangely revealing. After reading his responses, you may actually become possessed of the notion that you
know The Greg. In his words:

"Here's my answers to one of those stupid profile question things found on some new social site - I think it was called like "FaceBlast" or "ClusterFuck" or "da.clitter.us" or some shit like that. I don't remember. Anyway, I'm pretty sure my answers will get thousands of friend requests instantly, especially from hot babes. (If by "hot babe" you mean feverish with infection. -
Ed.) Check it out."

While less lengthy than the MMPI, the fusillade of questions below is no less probing, and has revealed things about The Greg that few have known, including me. And that's saying a lot, because The Greg lives in my basement. Least he did last time I looked.

Without further ado -

Q. What would you do if no one were looking?
A. Create a social networking group for people who aren't looking.

Q. Who would you like to see on a new banknote?
A. Groucho, Chico, Harpo, Gummo and Karl Marx.

Q. What should you be doing?
A. Creating a social networking group for people who aren't looking.

Q. Favorite place to be barefoot?
A. A wading pool filled with those little sausages.

Q. Time flies when you're _________________
A. traveling backwards through a space/time wormhole. I'm pretty sure.

Q. When you go to a party and someone says, "What do you do?", what do you say?
A. "I go to parties so people can ask me what I do."

Q. DVD or TIVO?
A. DEVO.

Q. What's the greenest thing you do?
A. Allow moss to grow in my underwear.

K. So. Here's your turn - and trust me, you don't get one very frequently as Greg and I are seldom wont to let a word creep in edgewise - gimme your best profile Q&A if you dare.

Cheers,

-Thaddeus



06 September 2008

Next Time, I Swear I'm Not Coming Back



Click on the little word balloon thingy in the lower left corner to read the captions.

Greg:

The leaves turning on the maple tree across the street is making me pine for summer. I hardly got in any hiking this year. One of these days, when my dowsing stick finally hits the underground money stream, I'm going to hike my ass out of here and never come back.

When we went up to Deer Park in Olympic National Park this last time, I almost didn't come back. At one point John and I were sitting on top of Blue Mountain sharing the same fantasy. (You were somewhere downhill, avoiding the altitude.) In this fantasy, we call our wives, tell them to sell all our stuff, and to come meet us up there in the mountains where we belong. We live happily ever after. Cue sunset. Roll credits. (But who delivers the Indian food? You won't survive without Indian food. Or cable. Just sayin'. -Ed.)

That same mad, lycanthropic euphoria bubbles up every time I go into the mountains, the mania that wants me chuck it all and not come back. You know, like Col. Kurtz, but not quite so batshit homicidal crazy and stuff.


When I hiked out to Skoki Lodge in the Banff NP backcountry last year, my inner Amish almost got the upper hand and kept me there for good, too. If it were not for my very sane, very-disinclined-to-bathe-in-ass-freezing-mountain-streams wife, I’d prolly still be there, picking my teeth with a marmot or warming my hands over a blazing hiker.

Speaking of being on top of a mountain, I understand your concern about how I like to hang near the edge of the biggest drop-off I can find. I’m only doing it for therapeutic value. Honestly. I started going up into the mountains to help overcome anxiety. As folks like myself who have an anxiety disorder often do, I was becoming afraid of heights. Anxiety disorders often "morph" to include basic phobias. (The five basic phobias are water, spiders, snakes, heights and small spaces. And, if you're male, that list may include commitment. -
Ed.) While I was educating myself on how to get over anxiety, I found out that the best way to deal with a phobia is through exposure. (Not of one's loins and whatnot, but exposure to the phobia-inducing stimulus.) So I started getting myself up as high as I could reasonably get without standing on the ledge of a building or filling a recliner with helium.

I’m not afraid of heights anymore, that’s for sure. But now it’s kinda like I have to get a little dose of the medicine that cured me every once in a while, lest it wear off. Call it a “booster shot”. At least I’m not doing anything truly goddamn crazy, like mountaineering. Mountaineering is not my bag, and and I’ll tell ya why. There are certain activities I abjure, chief among them:

  • Falling into giant icy crevasses.
  • Eating the dead.
  • Sustaining frostbite injuries. (I've actually done this one before. I frostbit my face in 1984. Parts of it turned all black and fell off. And it fuckin' hurts like you would not believe.)
  • Having a pulmonary embolism for dinner.
  • Wigging out on hypoxia.
  • Pooping in a bag.
  • Starring in a book by Jon Krakauer.

These are all things that you either must do or may wind up doing if mountaineering is your cup of freeze-dried tea. But please don’t confuse me those peak-hopping, ice-axe-wielding bag-shitters. The things that I like aren't usually found where you find alpinists, f'rinstance:

  • Fragrant alpine meadows.
  • Piney pine trees.
  • Surly marmots.
  • Tranquil mountain lakes.
  • Lunch.

In other words, if it's below the tree line, count me in. Likewise, if trees won't live there, why should I go?

The other reason I'm belaboring the distinction is because some hiker recently took a couple-hundred-foot drop and creamed himself into human chip dip on a pile of granite. This was of course covered in the paper which of course means Dad read it which of course means he gave me several stern warnings and admonitions (replete with the appropriate finger-stabbing of the appropriate story column in the local paper) about doing the same to myself. So I had to give him the requisite assurances that Mister Salad Bar Item was (or at least fancied himself to be) mountaineering whereas all I do is hike. I don't even use ropes. Hell, I wouldn't tie myself to something I
liked, let alone some mountain.

Okay, so if I've done nothing more than set the record straight (assuming it needed to be set straight), me = hiker, not mountain climber. Hope that puts you at ease.

Picking up dog turds not as fun as it sounds

Before the monsoon season strikes (I mean strikes and any harder than is has already struck for the past few months of our goddamn soaking wet 58-degree "summer"), I'm trying to get things in and about the yard put away. This includes dog turds which - come to find out - are not as water soluble as you would think. I've been finding chalk-white turd carcasses all over the yard, or "turd bones", if you will. And come to think of it, there's no way our wee little Corgy can produce that many boluses. She must be recruiting help. She's not asking you to chip in, is she? If so, help me out and use a trowel. Or just scratch like a cat.

Hauling rat-pee-covered insulation to the dump not as fun as it sounds

Since I was over at E's house dropping off some stuff that she so graciously offered to store for me, I counter-offered to help haul another load of that rat pee covered insulation and wallboard that you tore out of her basement. I only mention this because I made an interesting discovery while at the transfer station. You know how I keep all those fancy essential oils in my truck so I can mix my own air fresheners? (Yeah, I do, so what? Shut up!) Well bitter almond oil effectively cancels the crushing, mephitic redolence that only a steaming hot garbage dump can produce. Might be a good thing to keep in your lunchbox next time you want to carry along another ptomaine-laced hot dog. Might make it easier to choke down.

Cheers,

-Thaddeus

02 September 2008

Truck Sex On Satellite: Privacy in the post-InterWebs age


Exciting New Google Maps feature! You can now use Google Maps to find
all the placeswhere middle-aged men are trying to talk their long-suffering
wives into having sex with them in the cabs of their trucks.*

"A less appetizing Google feature has never been introduced." -CNET Reviews

*Not.


Greg:

Teresa and I were driving over to Lowe's yesterday in my bitchen new truck when a great idea struck me.

"Hey honey, instead of going to Lowe's, how 'bout we go have sex somewhere right now - just find somewhere shady to park and knock off a chunk right here in the cab of the truck."

You can probably already guess by knowing Teresa that the idea was less-than-enthusiastically received. I counter-pointed that the features of the 2008 Toyota Tacoma Access Cab (with Sport Package) would surely accommodate almost any position that a man of my noble dimensions and a woman of her diminutive stature could dream up. She said yeah, you go ahead and keep dreaming, Mr. Tetris.

Undaunted, I pressed on by pointing out that not only do the front seats fully recline, I had proven on more than one occasion that the jump seats afforded me more than enough room to nap (albeit in the cannonball position). And for the truly adventurous and outdoorsy, the suicide doors could be utilized to create a veritable -

"No," she said.

"Why?" I said.

She explained that here in the Age of the InterWebs that some damn satellite would whiz by and snap our picture, and there we'd be
in flagrante delicto on Google Maps. She has a point, but I shan't be deterred. Besides, I am already on a quest to be the most privacy-compromised individual on the InterWebs.

Not like I haven't had my privacy compromised already. I have. My identity has already been stolen once. Back in nineteen-ought-ninety-two, I received a very politely-worded warrant in the mail from the Silverdale County Sheriff asking me to turn myself in for felony forgery. I called them up, said what the f, they said you wrote a bad check for $400, I said joke's on you, I don't have a checking account, they said so sorry to bother you - our bad, but keep the warrant as our lovely parting gift to you; but then that kinda shit kept happening until February '98 when I had to have my name and my birth certificate and my SSN card changed, and then my credit was completely dicked until about two or three years ago - true story.

But I figure in this day and age of Facebook and MySpace and Twitter and what the hell all else, the only defense you have of your privacy is to put so much information out there about yourself that eventually people will be hard pressed to figure out what's fact, what's rumor, and what's legend - you know, kinda like it is with Bigfoot, the chupacabra, and Britney Spears.

Some people might say, "Hey, isn't that called obfuscation and inveiglement?" To which I reply, "Only if you're smart and use big words". I have my own name for this tactic, and I call it "Hornswoggling the InterWebs".

So far I'm on a pretty good pace to accomplish my goal. Last time I vanity-Googled, damn near all the results on the first page were me - the real me. Oh wait - there was some English novelist who had a character named Thaddeus Gunn, a name she undoubtedly stole from me, Thaddeus Gunn.

Of course I ran this whole "hornswoggling" idea past my wife if only as a transparent last-ditch ruse to get some truck sex. She usually supports all my crazy notions, but not this time. She was steadfast in her refusal.

"And how does us - as you so eloquently put it - "slamming ham" in the cab of your truck figure in to all of this?"

She had me there.

"It'd be fun."

"No."

"C'mon. You know what rhymes with truck?"

"Yes. You're out of luck."

She said that the real danger was not really in getting snapped by a satellite or in footage of us "in progress" winding up on YouTube. That was a foregone conclusion. The world is rife with electronic eyes in the 21st century. The real danger that once the footage was posted, we'd be arrested for boring the crap out of everyone on the planet. She said that there's a good reason why you don't see porn videos with titles like "Middle-Aged Married Couple Having Consensual Sex In A Mid-Life Crisis Truck".

I suddenly lost the urge.

Seahawks place me on injured reserve list

The Seahawks made a fan-cap saving move this weekend when they placed me on injured reserve. Seems I pulled that plantar fascia thingamadeal in the bottom of my foot as I was running up the stairs to my seat in row II (as in "aye aye") in the 300 level of Qwest Field. I was quoted as saying, "Shit that hurts!" The Seahawks dispatched the Raiders 23-16 in preseason action. In response to the 'Hawks victory, I was also quoted as saying, "Whooooooooo!" and "Go Haaaaaaaawwwks!"

The Indescribable Oomph - Part 2

The search for the Best Goddamn Copywriter In The Whole Wide World continues. As it turns out, the phenomenally well-written "Look At This Fuckin' Product" series of print ads is not written by one, nor two, nor three different copywriters, but is the product of a distributed cognitive system comprised of a lot of people everywhere. (Or more precisely, all over hell and gone. -Ed.)

The latest opus from this Unstoppable Mass-Mind of Advertising has been channeled through its humble servant eon. Observe his omnipotent flex-action on life-giving fluids:

17 August 2008

Massive Tribal Dump


Give that man a job. Seahawks seventh round draft pick
Justin Forsett ran like a cat dipped in turpentine last night
in the 'Hawks preseason 29-26 OT victory over the Bears.

Greg:

I'm glad you finally got to witness first hand the huge screaming steaming drinking throbbing mass that is a Seahawks game at Qwest Field. Granted, it was only a preseason game, and therefore was only "sports orgy lite". Still, it made our backup QB Charlie Frye's foibles - the interceptions and whatnot - no less rage-inducing. (If he were more competent perhaps we could get "World's Most Athletic Human" Seneca Wallace out where he should be, catching passes instead of backing up Matt Hasselbeck.)

But I have to tell you, every year at the first game when the players come flying out of the tunnel to all the smoke and fire and beer-gurgling fanfare, it reminds me of the scene in "Gladiator" when the fighters are brought up into the light of the coliseum for the first time and all nearly crap their loincloths over the sheer fucking size of it all.

Now you also know how oh-so-very-goddamn loud it is. Again - it was only a preseason game, so it was "ear-splitting lite". Increase that cacophony by a factor of 2.5 and you get an idea of what a post-season game is like.

Now that you know what I mean when I say that I find it quite satisfying to take a gigantic emotional dump in public, and to do so without consequences, and to have it be an expected behavior. Also, as you pointed out, to not just take an emotional dump individually, but tribally as part of the tens-of-thousands-strong screaming steaming drinking throbbing mass. (SSDTM for those of you who need an acronym for everygoddamnthing if it gets more than two mentions. I'm looking at you, Microsoft. -Ed.)

If you know me as well as you do, dear brother, it begs the question how I, who never had the athletic inclination to throw my voice fer Winchell's sake, would become a frothing sweating screaming flailing fan
of football. (Or FSSFF. Not the second mention yet. I know. I'm just getting ready. -Ed.)

Easy. I think football is a dharma. It represents an integral concept of this difficult and oft-confusing life that is represented in my favorite fuckin' haiku of all goddamn time from Kobayashi Issa (1763-1828):

It is a dewdrop world

Surely it is

And yet

And yet -

Football is only a concept. (Oh yeah? Try convincing Bears backup QB Caleb Hanie that the 600-pound sack of man-crete that flattened him last night was a concept. I'm sure his chiropractor would like to hear that too. -Ed.) (Quiet you! -TRG.) It is what it is - to flog a hackneyed football interview phrase - because we all agree that it is. The fans, the players, the coaches, the ticket scalpers - you get the drift. It only has as much importance as I interpret it to have. I scream until I hyperextend my pyloric valve in anger when our backup quarterback Charlie Frye throws an interception, but I do so by choice. If it were, say, Bears QB Rex Grossman throwing the interception, I would shriek with glee and dispense high-fives to everyone within high-fiving range.

I find it enjoyable to become a FSSFF (Nice! -Ed.) because it is one of the few times in life when I am conscious of the emotional choice. In the rest of my life, it's not like that. Someone tells me shocking news and I startle. People die and I weep. My brother grieves and I despair. The cat pukes on my bedspread and my heart is filled with blackest rage. All of these things, though they seem appropriate to the situation, arise spontaneously and therefore seem as autonomic as a sneeze.

All these emotions, however autonomic they may seem, arise from values that I possess: the worth of my bedspread and the importance of my brother's well-being, for instance. These could be subject to emotional choice as well. I could choose to help others breathe through their upsets as I breathe through mine, to listen compassionately when my brother grieves, and transform the urge to punt the cat into compassion for his dyspepsia. (Or if you must punt the cat, punt him delicately and with loving-kindness. -Ed.)

But I will always rage over the foibles of Charlie Frye, because as Issa put it so succinctly two hundred years ago:

It is a preseason game

Surely it is

And yet

And yet -


Cheers, -Thaddeus

15 August 2008

I Should Be In Jail Etc. Part 3: The Kreamening


Better products for better kreaming, through science.
Fig 1: A white lab-coated scientist, not unlike those who
create our favorite food products every day.


Greg:

With full knowledge that all I have told you thus far will undoubtedly be used against me in a court of law, a strange mix of pride, guilt and glee urges me on. I must tell you the Karnation Kem-Kreme story.

The year is 1986. I am working as an executive secretary for Carnation Corporation in Los Angeles, California. They hired me because I type 85WPM and I can answer the shit out of a telephone. Just you try and stop me.

Correction - I did type that fast until I effed up my right hand by jamming it into a mason jar and cutting the hell out of my right radial distal nerve. I didn't even know what a right radial distal nerve was until I severed the sumbitch. Now I have one good hand - the left hand, the evil hand , die hand die verletzt - and another one that is as numb as a churchgoer's ass. But that's another story.

I feel all jibbity-jibbity suddenly. Are there weasels in my duodenum?

Wait - you know what' s going on? They put sugar in my smoothie. Those guys. The ones at the Alki Cafe. The carburetor on my pancreas is stuck wide open. That's why I can't track and I'm mildly paranoid. Make sure you have the padded bar pulled down and tight across your lap. This may get bumpy. SUGAR MAFIA, HEAR ME! From hell's heart I stab at the- WHOAH! CHECK IT OUT, A FIRE TRUCK! Just FEAST YOUR BABY BLUES ON THAT BIG SHINY BEEYOOOT-

Where was I? Oh yeah. Carnation. I worked in the Contadina tomato products division. It was on the seventh floor across from the Coffee Mate division. It freaked many people out to have a male secretary in the company (seriously - they couldn't handle a man's baritone coming across the line when they'd call looking for some executive's secretary and some people would just hang up). So they bumped me up to marketing assistant.

Then the news media got their little pulp-stained paws on a study from the National Institute of Whatever The Hell Is Bad For You This Week that proved that tropical oils worked like Kwik-Krete in your arteries. Plus, they said all excited-like, eating tropical oils will give you man-teats. Chicks, they warned us gravely, will no longer dig you. And that is some cold, cold shit.

The folks in the Coffee Mate division did not receive this news gladly. In fact, they were apoplectic. Y'see, back then, Coffee Mate was made with plenty of tropical oils. (It's not any more.) They were convinced that Coffee Mate was going down. Some figured - wrongly - that the only way to circumvent disaster was to come up with an even more gruesome chemical brew that had no tropical oils but would taste like real cream. (Thankfully, they did not do that. Actually, something good happened and now you can get Coffee Mate in just about any flavor of the rainbow including Blueberry Cheesecake which, while I will never sully my morning doppio with it, I will chug it straight from the bottle. It's that good. And I am that effed in the head.)

And then a prank was born.

I had access to all the marketing materials for all the divisions because many of the executives I worked for didn't wanna learn the new Alias computer system so they let me go learn it for them. That was mistake #1: giving Pranky McPrankington the keys to the fun box.

I got into the graphics files for the Coffee Mate labels and just had a gay olde tyme "re-interpreting" them. I changed the product name to Karnation Kem-Kreme and added the tag line, "It'll Have Ya Trippin'!" I rewrote the ingredient label to include hog jowls, dog mucus, and influenza. Then I forwarded the files to the factory with the instructions to label up a test batch and send it over to the head of Coffee Mate (who I'll call Rick).

Did Rick get the joke? Oh he goddamn well did. And it pissed him off grand royal. He stormed over to my desk. "I guess you just don't have enough to do!" he spat at me, hard enough to blow the eraser crumbs out of my Smith-Corona. Then he stomped over to the office of my boss (who I'll call Steve).

I peeked through the window. Rick stood there, raging at Steve with the anger of a Titan. When the catharsis was over, Rick stomped by my desk again, giving me the requisite glare on the way by. Steve walked over to his window and wearily waved me into his office.

"Thaddeus," he said with a sigh of resignation, "That...was really, really, really funny."

"Seriously?" I said.

"Mm hmm." He said.

"OK. Should I just...go back...to work now?"

"Sure. Oh - one thing."

"What's that?"

"Don't do that again."

"Okay I won't."

"Yeah. Do something different. You gotta stay sharp. Test your limits and abilities. Know what I mean?"

"Yes I do."

And the moral of the story is - well, I don't have a moral. I just didn't get fired. I think I moved to Seattle about a week later just to avoid it.

Let me just end this epistle with this unsolicited endorsement: Coffee Mate is fuckin' delicious. Shake it up with some Scotch and pour it over ice. You'll see what I mean.

It'll have ya trippin'!

Cheers,

-Thaddeus


12 August 2008

I Should Be In Jail By Now, Part 2: Choking The Chicken


Careful. That shit can get you fired.

Greg:

K. So. Like I was saying about stuff I did that prolly shoulda landed me in jail. Remember back last time when I told you that bit about getting fired for 'malicious compliance'? Here's how that went down:

Chilly the Weather Chicken

Way back before there was a radio format called 'Alternative' (which is now anything but), there were teeny tiny little AM radio stations that held the torch for such gittar-pickin' surrealist enclaves as The Church, Alien Sex Fiend, Robyn Hitchcock, and Midnight Oil (as well as Johnnycomelatelys Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, and fuckin' Nearvanna). And since these wee little alt.alt.alternative stations were usually the poor relation of some FM AOR juggernaut (because no one can have enough Skynyrd), they got the snotty end of the stick day in and out until they were sold for chump change to televangelists.

In the case of the late KJET-AM, (which thanks to the immortalizing power of the InterWebs you can still listen to on Live365 and MySpace) it was sold to a bunch of chumps with a wad of change who thought that b-side oldies was the format of the future.
This was way back in nineteen-ought-eighty-nine. Never mind that these tracks sucked too hard to be on the a-side forty years ago, and that the intervening decades had not redeemed them. The folks who bought the station thought they had some sort of statement to make and that they were all going to be able to purchase at least one solid gold rocket car apiece.

Here's a spoiler: If you're not listening to b-side oldies right now, it means the experiment failed.

Now 'tis a little-known fact that if you work in radio, you can expect to get fired about every twenty minutes or every time a station changes format, whichever comes first. But the upside of this was that since this was happening everywhere in the industry, you could always migrate elsewhere. Plus you always got a big fat severance check.

So we're sitting there in this meeting, THE meeting, the one where they tell you that the station is changing format and boo hoo hoo and here's your big fat severance check, when I'll be go to hell if they didn't say, "...and we'd like to keep you all on." You could've knocked us all over with a mangy feather plucked from the soiled pillow of Kurt Cobain. It meant we would get no big fat severance check. And that would not do. We had all promised ourselves that we were going to binge drink, and there's no way we could do that on regular salary. There was only one way to get the big fat severance check and that was to get fired.

So we hatched a plan - a plan that would fix us good. We were all going to change our air names and do the worst puking boss-jock horseshit radio we could possibly do. (See also: The Real Don Steele. -Ed.) They would have to fire us. And then we'd get our big fat severance checks. And then we could get all get fried to the hat and stay that way, at least for the afternoon. I changed my air name to Big Rick Hardy.

Since the new station's call letters were KQUL (Cool Oldies!), I figured we needed a mascot with an arctic theme, so I created Chilly the Weather Chicken. Then I put together some outrageously bullshit contest centered around him. To wit, if you out-guessed Chilly on what the next day's high temperature would be, you got to 'choke the chicken' on the air. This meant that I mentioned your name and played a
cart of a chicken buh-gawking along with some wild sound of me gagging, perhaps captured during one of my drunken afternoons at the Five Point.

So along comes my new boss Danny Holiday one day and throws the cart down in front of me. "Can't do this anymore," he says. "Whyforhowcome not?" I says. "Because 'choking the chicken' is a euphemism for masturbation," he says. "Nooooooo waaaaaayy!" I says. "Yep. S'a'fact," he says. "Can't bleeve you dinnint know that."

So I came back the next Monday with a new on-air quiz called "Beating the Bishop". I got crap-canned hyper-quick, and I got a little triplicate form showing that I was terminated for 'malicious compliance'. HOW SWEET IS THAT?!!


Oh yeah, I got a big fat severance check.

Next time: On a whim, I create "Karnation Kem-Kreme" on the job and get a large piece of my ass chewed off for my trouble.

Cheers,

-Thaddeus

06 August 2008

I Should Be In Jail By Now, Part 1


There once was a town called Nantucket. (Shown here, smaller than actual size.)
The guy with the gimongous schweinstucker lives in the third shack on the left.
Note the wheelbarrow.


Greg:

Somebody is going to send me to jail. And not just for shit I did. For shit I still do all the time. And I'm not talking an overnighter in King County. I'm talking like prolly a stint in the Chateau d'If. What for? Because I pull
mildly pernicious pranks that bring me volumes of that special joy one can only get from peccancy. And I pull them on a regular basis...in the workplace, no less. And I'm a grown-ass man.

Just what the hell is wrong with me? If you ask my son, I'm fourteen on the inside. That's what's wrong with me.

OK - maybe not jailed, but perhaps fired. But if you're gonna get fired, get fired for something, right? You know honestly, I got fired for malicious compliance once. That's one hell of a Jeopardy category, I tell you what. I even got a triplicate form with that on it, proving my transgression to all the English-speaking world. Too bad I lost it. I'd've liked to have that bastard framed.

But there's been a load of stuff that I didn't get fired for that I prolly shoulda. Like for instance:

THE REHAB GAG

When somebody at my place of work is gone for an extended period of time, I like to go around the company telling people that they're in rehab. And when people ask me "What for?", I like to say that "...they got Hooked On Phonics, ate a bunch of phonemes, and careened their Beamer into the kiddie pool. That was pretty fucked up, so the court remanded them to treatment." And then the other person will say, "No way! Did anyone get hurt?" And I'll go, "No, the kids were all inside drinking Scotch and watching Teletubbies. But not the real Teletubbies, the porn Teletubbies - you you know, the TeleChubbies. I think it was 'TeleChubbies Do Manhattan'. But anyway, s'all good."

Now is that so wrong? My old boss seemed to think so. I was all like, you think I'll get fired? And she was all, I don't know, we'll have to talk about that when we fire you.

By the way, I don't work there anymore.

And then there's:

THE NANTUCKET GAG

When I first started working at my new job, I noticed that everyone talked at the same time in meetings. It blew my mind. It was cacophonous. I couldn't imagine how anything ever got done. So just to see if anyone was even listening at all, I started reciting the "Man from Nantucket" limerick during meetings when everyone was uber-blabbing. In case you have lost familiarity with this particular limerick (as I know you have a veritable trove of them brewing and at the ready in your noodle), it's filthy. It goes like this:

There once was a man from Nantucket
Whose **** was so long he could **** **.

He wiped off his chin

And said with a grin

"If my ear were a **** I could **** **."


Did I tell you that a lot of people I work with are kinda churchy? And I don't mean that to be pejorative. Nice folks. But prolly not the kind of people you'd find reciting this kind of filth. So when I pointed out to them one day when we were all gathered in the lunch room that I was reciting this horrifying limerick and that none of them could hear it because none of them wanted to give up the floor, they were shocked. And then meetings got pretty doggone polite. Now "Nantucket" has become a code word in my cube pod for, "shut yer trap, you're interrupting me".

And as a bonus, after these nice people fire me, I'm going straight to hell.

Is that all? Oh, mais non. I've just cracked the seal on this. I have any number of years to recount, and you, sir, shall be my confessor.

Cheers,

-Thaddeus

PS: The Indescribable Oomph

You know I've been writing copy for nigh on to twenty years. Well I've just met my match. Doesn't matter what product it is, there's nothing this guy can't handle. Whether it's bacon, peppers, or some space-age Microsoft technology shit, this guy captures that indescribable "oomph" that all clients are clamoring for. His ability to provoke desire is uncanny. He needs a $1 to $2 million dollar a year gig. Fuck yeah he does. Check out his inimitable stylings and muscular prose in extra-spicy five-star not-safe-for-the-workplace language:

29 July 2008

A Prayer to St. Expeditus


St. Expeditus (above), patron saint of
The Republic of Molossia (where the f?),
also patron of procrastinators, programmers,
and emergencies (I shit you not), but
lest we forget, also patron saint of
greased lightning, fedex drivers, espresso jitterati,
nervous little dogs, wigged-out bugs,
alka seltzer bubbles, 4.4 forty runners,
coke freaks, meth freeeks, crank frreeeex,
and (say it with me now)
les freaks Parkour.

Saint Expeditus -

Howya doin'? You don't say. Ossum.

Most Holy and Glorious Martyr Expeditus,
Let us not beateth around the bush.
I know you know what I need.

I have already entreated St. Joseph on this point
And I know that you two talk,
Belonging thou both to the same lodge, as you do
And drinking ye both of the Fuzzy Navels
And playing thou both the game of bridge concomitantly
Each Wednesday and Saturday

For St. Joseph, while he's a nice guy
And handy with the woodworking tools
And good with the changing of the Holy Diapers of
Our Lord and Savior, Wee Screaming Baby Jesus,
...by the way, where the hell is Mary? Getting a pedicure or something?
Howcome she's not on poop detail?
Ohh...step father. Got it.

But lookest thou here, St. Expedite:
I didst my due diligence
And in accordance with the instructions
(In both English and Spanish)
On the laminated holy card,
Didst bury St. Joseph in order to hasten my request
That he help us procure a new home

I maketh not this shit up. That's what it said to do.
Think about it, St. Expedite.
I am a grown-ass man, yet I found myself
Whispering strange incantations over a plastic statue
And covering it with dirt in the deepest, darkest part
Of the mid-afternoon
My dignity thus compromised
For so great was my need
Disregarded I the chortling of the neighbors
And stoppered mine ears against their epithets

So - St. Expedite - here's the deal:
Whilst Most Holy St. Joseph is taking
A Blessed Dirt Nap
Steppest thou up to the ear of God -
- the BIG God, not any of the little ones -
And with an urgency that denotes impending urination
Beseech He/Him/She/It on my behalf
So that I, my wife, and all of our cohabiting family members
Who number (wait...five, plus eight...carry the twelve...)
Who are more numerous than the beasts of the air,
The birds of the field, and all the stars in the firmament
Of Hollywood combined -
(I didst the math and knowest it to be true for I have shown my work
In mine own third period notebook)
Lo! They are many and the house it is small -

Most Holy Martyr St. Expeditus,
As I hath mentioned before,
One saint has already been put on the job
And he's head-down in a flower pot, mulling his fate.
Don't want to sound like I'm threatening or anything
But unless thou likest the taste of dirt,
Perhaps you oughtta intercede on my behalf here chop chop,
Capiche?

Amen, and BFF:

-Thaddeus





23 July 2008

Lunch


Holy freaking shit! Is that a sandwich!? What sort of life must one lead, I wonder,
that they are amazed by the contents of your lunch box.

Greg:

We have a really big kitchen at MRM (McCann Relationship Marketing, part of the McCann-Erickson world-gripping octopus), so everyone - including me - avails themselves to it to cook and eat their lunches every day. And every day, somebody or bodies develop an almost preternatural fascination with my lunch. Why? Beats me. I'm not eating shiny rocks or live squirrels, so why anyone would have such a keen interest in what's on my plate is beyond me.

So what I've decided to do is to write down standard answers to the usual questions that I get regarding my lunch and post them here. Then I'm going to have the URL to this post printed on the back of my business cards and hand one to the first querier that pops open their gob (because Wee Lil' Huggies(tm)-Bound Christ Our Lord and Savior knows that I have yet to hand one of my business cards to a client and I want to feel like that tree didn't die for nothing). So here goes. And rest assured, these are
real questions that were actually asked of me at lunch time

Q: Hey, is that your lunch?
A: Holy shit! I have no idea. Let's watch me and see if I sit down and eat it.

Q: You eat salmon?
A: No, I
am eating salmon.

Q: But I thought you were a vegetarian.
A: Was. Still am for the most part with the exception of salmon. Guess that makes me a vegaquarium.

Q: Is that a real word?
A: Oh for crissakes.

Q: But why salmon?
A: Doctor's orders. Seriously. They took a look at how high my cholesterol was and shat a kitten. Then they told me for the third time that I have to start eating fish.

Q: What made you become vegetarian in the first place?
A: I had a dream about a cow that completely freaked me out. Never touched meat again until the kitten-shitting doctor told me I had to. So I've never been so much "vegetarian" as "meat-phobic".

Q: So doesn't eating salmon freak you out?
A: Thanks for reminding me. Can I puke in your shoes?

Q: That's not an answer.
A: And that's not a question. And look! Now there's puke on your shoes.

Q: Why are you so grumpy?
A: Because I never get to eat my freakin' lunch in peace.

Q: Ha ha ha Thaddeus, you're so funny.
A: Thank you. But seriously, can I eat my freakin' lunch in peace?

Q: Are you going to eat that whole salad?
A: Yes. Are you going to eat all the oxygen in the room?

Q: Is that an omelet?
A: Nope. It's a placenta.

Q: Gross!
A: You asked.
Q: Is that white rice? That's weird. You eat white rice for breakfast?
A: Yeah, rice for breakfast is pretty rare and exotic. Only me and and six billion other folks are doing it.

Q: Do you put butter on everything?
A: Just about, but there are some things that even butter can't fix. Like when you make toast out of wood. Or you date a Russian.

Q: What?
A: Nothing.

14 July 2008

A Prayer to St. Joseph


Props to the Pops: Lil' Jesus gives his step dad an under-chin high five.
Most Holy Saint Joseph,
step dad of Lil' Jesus,
for whom baby aspirin is named,
you taught our Lord
the carpenter's trade,
and saw to it
that he was always properly housed,
hear my earnest plea.

I want you to help me now
as you helped your foster-child Jesus,
and as you have helped many others
in the matter of housing.

Yeah, that's right, I said "housing".
I know I bought a house just a year ago.
Heareth me out.

I wish to purchase a house in the Admiral District,
a beautifully renovated 1929 Tudor,
in a great location near schools,
shops & parks(!)
with elegant period details & modern updates
leaded glass windows, tile fireplace, picture moldings
& mahogany woodwork
(yea, though the listing hath many ampersands
and parenthetically-ensconced exclamation points)
slab granite counters & eating
bar, new cabinetry, farmhouse sink & stainless appliances.

Yea verily, it is even earthquake retrofitted!

Most Holy St. Joseph,
who seest the content of mine heart and wallet
and knowest that I need more liquidity
and more open credit sufficient to procure
this domicile (though my credit rating be blameless),
...just hang tight for the rest of my plea, okay?
And not let thy holy eyes roll heavenward in disgust
and exasperation.

For with thine aid, I shall purchase it
quickly, easily, and profitably
yea though mine own real estate agent
mocketh me and telleth me to
suck it up for another year
with mine current shack.

And I implore you to grant my wish
by purifying the hearts of the two nice ladies
who own the place,
and filling them with eagerness, compliance, and honesty,
and having them see their way clear
to accommodate my impoverished ass
(likewise, a shitload of cash
thrown my way wouldn't hurt either,
if thou gettest my drift)
and by letting nothing impede the
rapid conclusion of the sale.

Dear Saint Joseph,
I know you would do this for me
out of the goodness of your heart
and in your own good time,
but my need is very great now
and so I must make you hurry
on my behalf chop chop.

For lo, my current residence overfloweth with residents.
My beloved mother-in-law Lucy,
who maketh The Waffles of Righteousness
each morning of which we eat,
verily I trod upon her even this morning
so pinched are our quarters.
Likewise the cat I have trod upon,
as well as the wife, the dog, and several door-to-door
salespersons, and they likewise have trod upon me,
each in their own time
verily because of the tiny
space wherein we live.
Yea, we squeezeth through the roof beams
like toothpaste, so pinched are
our quarters.

Saint Joseph, here is the deal:
I am going to place you
in a difficult position
with your head in darkness
and you will suffer as our Lord suffered,
until the aforementioned house is purchased by us.

Why? Because All The Catholics I Know
said I have to bury your likeness in the yard,
head down, until the deal is done.
And there was the part about pouring martinis on you, too.
I am not making this shit up.

Then, Saint Joseph, I swear
before the cross and God Almighty,
that I will redeem you
and you will receive my gratitude
and a place of honour in my new home.

Just do me this one solid.

Amen.

10 March 2008

Well...How Did I Get Here?


Say hello to Pearl. My utterly bitchen new Toyota Tacoma is outfitted precisely
as the one pictured here - right down to the black pearl paint job, Bilstein shocks and
skid plates. The only thing missing is the dirt bike in the back and the kid with the
mullet who is undoubtedly driving it.

"And you may find yourself at the wheel of a large automobile."
-Talking Heads, Once in a Lifetime

Greg:

Somebody once said that good things come to those who wait. I'd like to expand on that sentiment by saying no they fucking don't. How do I know? Because back in the early 90s, I lived in a car. And not even a cool car, Greg. It was a 1974 Ford Maverick with a mild case of cancer and a severe case of every other fucking thing that can go wrong with a car. Way back then, I used to fantasize about having a brand new Toyota truck that I could drive up some of the more treacherous dirt roads in Olympic National Park and camp and hike to my heart's content. It represented all the freedom that my poverty and completely misguided and chaotic lifestyle was denying me. And each day as I was desperately trying to collect enough change to buy a Slurpee, I knew that was never going to happen.

Well now I have a bitchen new Toyota truck with 4 wheel drive and all kindsa shit I didn't even know I wanted until the salesman pointed out to me that I did. He said if you think you don't want it, just keep throwing bricks of cash at me until you realize that you do. And I'll be go to hell if it didn't work just like he said.

I have digressed. The point I am driving at is this: I have some pretty amazing stuff in my life right now, some of which I actually planned. But I'll be hornswoggled if I can figure out how things actually turned out the way they did.

For instance, it's no secret that I'm no fan of The Secret - you know, that book that tells you that your thoughts create invisible tractor beams that shoot out of your head in every direction and attract the things that you covet most, like parking, fame, and bulging pectoral muscles. I did, however, do a "creative visualization" exercise, Wayne the hell back when I was unemployed and lived in a 400 square foot studio apartment in a building where the guy down the hall got murdered completely dead with a real knife and I occasionally had crack rocks show up at my door completely unbidden. I really did the whole exercise. I cut pcitures out of magazines that represented how I wanted my life to be and wrote a letter from the future about what my life was like, and featured prominently in that cardboard cutout fantasy was a brand-spankin' new Toyota truck...and I was the guy spankin' it.

Fast forward fifteen years and I now have everything - tangible and intangible - that I put together in that creative visualization way back then. Job, house, wife, kid, bitchen outdoor gear, bitchen truck, freedom to hit the road and have bitchen adventures. Everything. I wish that I could tell you that I had a plan or that there was a direct and well thought out correlation between my thoughts and actions and the acquisition of my dreams. But the fact of the matter is that there wasn't, and I still have no idea how any of this came about. It was planned inasmuch as I did the exercise, but by the same token it was not planned at all. So while I can say without a doubt that the exercise worked, I have no fucking idea how. I will say that I know that none of these good things came to me because I waited, because I sure as shit did not. I whined, pissed and moaned and wondered how my life could be taking such wrong turns and how I never got what I wanted until BLAM it suddenly existed all at once.

I do not mean to endow my new truck with more importance than it is due. It's not supernatural. It's just a truck...although I have named it Pearl and often find myself kissing it on the hood. (What, is that so wrong?) It is more what it represents. It shows that I must've done something right, even if I don't know what that is.

Any insights you have are welcome.

Cheers, -Thaddeus

17 February 2008

SPROING! / Later That Same Day


Sprout faster, you cotyledonous bastard! Spring comes not when
the calendar says it does, but when I'm damn good and ready to
get on my bike and speed it into existence.

Greg:


It's spring, goddamnit. It is because I have proclaimed it so. The fact that I laid in my driveway and installed a new bike rack on my car yesterday (just like this one) without either getting soaked to the bone or freezing my treats off is my proof. Today the forecast calls for sun - real sun, not that half-assed ice-cold "mock" sun that you get in the winter - so I'm planning on spending my entire day on my bike, wind in my teeth, pollen in my hair, manufacturing vitamin D until the cows roost.

Speaking of which, there was an article in the Seattle Times recently on the impact of living in unrelenting dankness. I think it was called, "Winter Dankness: Sucky, Or Really Truly Sucky?" or something to that effect. It was 'duh' sort of proposition. Of course living in dankness can't be good for you unless you're a salamander or porpoise or some other sort of critter who can't retain bodily fluids unless partially submerged at all times. (Or a Scandinavian, for instance. -Ed.) The interesting-yet-shocking point that the article brought up was that we (meaning Pac Northwesterners or "Mossbacks") have a notable increase in or susceptibility to diabetes, heart attacks, and multiple sclerosis. The Times points the finger at vitamin D3. There's just no way the tiny amount of solar radiation we get between October and March is enough to maintain a healthy level. Since I don't drink milk, I don't have a real good source of D3, so I figured I'd just go out and buy some and start taking it and see what happened.

What happened was SPROING! It was as though spring bloomed full-force within the very garden walls of my being. People who know me well claimed that I had positively annoying amounts of energy. I don't know about the annoying part as I believe that I'm pretty annoying to most people most of the time, what with my constant baying and hooting and "raise the roof" gestures in otherwise serene-to-languid settings as, say, the workplace and, say, mortuaries. But I can tell you that I got that feeling that I only get when the sun comes out - specifically when I'm hiking in the sun. I'm talking like toddler-esque amounts of joy.

Sure, it could be placebo effect. Or it could be that I'm finally experiencing Garcia Effect for the taste of winter.

Look, I'd love to stay and chat but the sun just came streaming through the front win-

(EPILOGUE: The author's chair was found empty, as was his bottle of vitamin D3. His bike was nowhere to be found. -Ed.)

LATER THAT SAME DAY:

Greg:

I had a heck of a bike ride. Tested out the new bike rack by taking our bikes down to Myrtle Edwards Park which is about 8 miles south of here, and is also a place where a portion of my proposed bike commute to and from work will pass. Since the bike route maps of Seattle are incomplete in places, I thought I'd start at Myrtle Edwards and find my way going north to the Hiram Chittenden Locks. From there I figure I can pretty much by guess and by golly it the rest of the way home. The one-way distance from my workplace to my home on my proposed route is about ten miles. I did about that much today (I think) going from Myrtle Edwards to the Locks and back. Or maybe it was only six. It felt like thirty. The important thing is that I learned that it's mostly uphill with one vertiginous downhill block and slippery wooden bridge just before you get to the locks. I'd better grow and extra lung.

After our ride, Teresa and I went and purchased many more (necessary) doo-dads and knick-knacks for our bikes (rear view mirror so I can see if my sweet, sweet Muffin has fallen too far behind; panniers and a trunk for my laptop and work clothes). Then we came home and treated ourselves to a cigar in the sunshine whilst reclining in our camp chairs in the back yard. She entertained herself with some thirty-pound novel and I read The New Yorker.

Which brings me to the subject of nicknames. There's a rambling article about nicknames by David Owen that's definitely worth reading, should you happen upon the latest issue of the NYker at the dentist or bail bondsman's office. Owen suggests that we give nicknames for different reasons. We give them to teachers and other adults when we're young to limit their terrible authority. We give them to our peers out of affection that lends us the ability to see something in them that those who christened them never saw.

When I was in high school, all my friends had nicknames: Bilm, Pro, Rocky, Little Rock (Rocky's brother), Cork, Megaton, Oatface, Nielsaroni Face, Big D (alternately Big Dez), Bish, Looter, Mack, Bills, Lizard, DKR (alternately Dra Kay Ra, acronymous for Daniel Kenton Reasoner), and Hercle Ivy. (Hercle Ivy even gave nicknames to his family: sister Jive, mother Jive Senior, and The Bear.) I simply went by T, the least colorful of all nicknames. Perhaps it was because I was enigmatic in some way since I was the only kid I knew who didn't live at home. I also often carried a "bag of tricks" with me to class which at any given time contained a length of jute rope (for who knows what), a jar of vaseline (for greasing doorknobs), a fifth of Seagram's gin in the "ancient" bottle and some Tom Collins mixer (for fun), a hemostat, and several dozen condoms (for wishful thinking). I was known from eighth grade on as the inventor of the most complicated handshakes imaginable, some taking almost two full minutes to execute. I was an honor student, by the way.

I don't know many people who have nicknames now, other than old bosses and co-workers who I've bestowed nicknames on behind their back - Kaptain Kaos (or Double K), for instance. Or the pestiferous duo of product managers who had the habit of buzzing into my office and telling me how to write copy. I dubbed them Thing One and Thing Two. I have affectionate nicknames for former co-workers who I consider friends - Francie, for instance, for Francesca who in turn calls me Gunny Sack. I'm pretty sure everyone who has ever worked with Matt "Douchebag" Lange calls him either Lange or Douchebag (lovingly, mind you). Given his unique and consistent penchant for blowing things off, we actually verb-ized his last name. If you inadvertantly stand someone up for a lunch date, you have "totally Langed" on them. You've met Elizabeth, of course. How she got the nickname Becky was a stretch. When I was really excited over something I'd say to her, "Ohmigod Becky!" (which is naturally a reference to the opening line of the Sir Mix-A-Lot classic "Baby's Got Back"). To which she would reply, "OhmiGAWD my name's not Becky!" So of course from then on out she was Becky to me. However if anyone else called her that, I'm sure they'd get at least hissed at.

Which now brings to the reason why I absolutely hate being called "Thad" - always have, always will. I know that relatives do it out of habit, and acquaintances do it out of a need for familiarity, like automatically calling someone "Bob". But it's not a name. "Thaddeus" is a name. It means "big hearted". "Thad" is a sound effect. It is the sound that horse poop makes when it hits pavement. I'd rather be called by one of the nicknames I've heard before (T. Gunn, Gunnie, Gunny Sack, or Teresa's reciprocal nickname for when I call her Muffin, which is Stuffin') than be called Thad.

And with that, I bid you a good night, my dear Bonus Lips!

-Thaddeus



31 January 2008

There Are Things I Simply Must Do


It's the least I could do. Out of horror over
the roiling, bombastic stench that my alimentary
canal produces and out of pity for my new co-
workers, I've resorted to taking DA's Gas Defense.
It's the least I could do, considering that I no
longer have an office to keep the evil sealed within.
The upside is that it works. The downside is
that it makes your viscera glow with almost
phosphorescent splendor (as accurately pictured
on the box).

Greg:

I've found what it possibly the only drawback of my new job, and it is this: I cannot pick my nose. RealNetworks, for all its faults, was good enough to provide me with an office. And that office came with a door. A door that closed. The door was also opaque, as all good wooden doors are. That means that I was free to carry out all manner of disgusting but oh-so-necessary grooming activities in complete privacy. All I had to do was to put a series of Post-Its on my door that read "ON THE PHONE...INTERVIEWING...IRON MAIDEN". (This is an almost entirely inside joke that perhaps only my former co-worker Edwin Sprague will get. Ed Sprague, by the way, was on the editorial team of my favorite mystery novel, the MIT Encyclopedia of Cognitive Sciences. I would not crap you about a thing like that.)

At my new gig, (T. Gunn, Senior Copywriter, MRM Worldwide, damn glad to meet ya) I am out on the open floor in a cube farm. Did I say "cube farm"? I meant "cube prairie".They're nice cubes, mind you. Made of very attractive blonde wood veneer and frosted glass. Not those things that are covered with The Grey Upholstery of Mind-Numbing Death that are designed to dampen the shrillness of your screams. But they are cubes nonetheless, so they are extremely challenged on the "privacy" vector. As fate would have it, mine sits right next to the door of our foremost conference room. And as fate would have it, I had my index finger buried to the knuckle as though I was trying to self-lobotomize, when lo, half the staff exited its door and filed past my desk with looks of mingled puzzlement and horror on their faces.

In my defense, I must say that Baby Jesus cursed me with rather diminutive nostrils, and in the dry air season, they tend to fill up with gravel, salamanders, and all manner of real estate that must be dislodged if I am to breathe at all. God, not man, decides when you should breathe. If you don't believe me, hold a pillow over your face. God will make you breathe. Therefore, it was the machina of deus that drove my index finger into my nose in plain view of 50% of the MRM staff. T'was not my will, nor my practically genetic inclination toward the uncouth.

And speaking of diminutive nostrils, the second joke that Baby Jesus played on me was to make them hirsute. Half the time, it is as if I am trying to breathe through a fir tree - without the piney fresh scent. So again, if I am to breathe at all, that damn pelt inside my snout must be rent and ripped free. There's not other way to do it. Grip it and rip it. (And don't make that face like you've never done that before. Everyone on the planet has pulled a nosehair or two, even if it was only to fake weeping.) So now, instead of being able to rip to my heart's content inside the protection of my office, I must excuse myself to the men's room and hunker down in a stall with a jumbo binder clip in one hand and a sock to stuff in my mouth, lest I cry out in pain. O, the indiginty!

And finally - not to be crude but these things simply must be addressed - I used to be able blast a pretty good pants-ripping poot in my old office without fear of offending anyone or setting anything on fire. (The main sprinkler stand pipe ran right through my office.) But here, if my ass were to make any of its usual clapping, shouting, alpenhorn-tooting, whip-cracking, duck-squashing onamatopaeia, at least thirty sets of eyes would snap away from their monitors in shock. So I have become adept at suppressing several dirigibles worth of flammable gas during my workday. The downside is that I am becoming quite round, and have devloped a fear of even the smallest sharp object.

Cheers,

-Thaddeus


27 January 2008

Positively Tripping Balls


Scrunchy The Bear, ShopRite's cereal mascot and
CEO of Scrunchy's Bunch Kids Club which purports
to be the "Coolest Club Around" (much to the chagrin
of the Lankershim Crips of LA's San Fernando
Valley). Members of Scrunchy's Bunch are afforded
such expense-free premiums as downloadable
activity books that will show you how you can just
fuck shit up and totally blow the lid off your family's
Hanukkah celebration.
Give up the dreidl, bitches! I
fidda take all y'alls snap!

Greg:

I'm feasting on a positively baroque delight right now, a concoction that I cobbled out of Rice Dream, bananas, and Scrunchy's Cocoa Bombs, a chocolaty breakfast staple that can be found for 87 cents a box at the local Ghetto Mart. This means that in no time at all I'll be positively tripping balls, running around the house screaming, trying to avoid the Sugar Weevils that claw at my soul every time I have a wee too much of the sweet stuff before bedtime. That also means that tomorrow sometime around 2PM, my head will slam into my desk and I will not be roused by either lemon juice to the eyes nor repeated applications of the whip to the tender, tender flesh of my nape.

Speaking of desks and tender napes, I have a new job! I alluded to this in my last post, but now I am allowed to speak freely (although not too freely, as I have not yet received my last check from my old employer). I'm inclined to do some mourning on behalf of my former colleagues - really good people caught in an untenable and utterly dysfunctional situation - and some lambasting of my former keepers, viz., anything VP or above in that organization. However, I will not engage in the latter because it's pointless, not to mention bad manners, to air one's bile-covered laundry in public. I already said anything that I needed to say during my exit interview, much to the disbelief of the interviewer. ("That incompetent?" "Yes, that incompetent." "Should not be..." "...be managing let alone exposed to humans; right - that's what I said. Write it down.") Not that RealNetworks is going to make any sweeping changes based on the peevish ranting of a departing employee. Let me just say that I really miss my former colleagues. But thanks to the magic of email, I can still badger them from afar. And I do. Lovingly.

Onward.

How would I best describe my new position? Lemme put it this way. At the end of a 13-hour day, when you can walk out of a five hour meeting that adjourns at 9:30PM and say, "THAT'S THE STUFF, LAD! TEAR ME OFF ANOTHER PIECE OF THAT!" without a hint of irony (but with a thick Glaswegian brogue), then you know you're in the right place. How can I make this claim? Because I did it. Ask anyone who was driving on 1st Avenue South last Tuesday night. Or simply Google the headline "Crazy Fuckin' Scottish Guy Has Excellent Day At New Job". I think it'll take you to a video link on CNN.com. I told my former boss this and she said, "They must be doing something right. I was hard pressed to keep you from falling asleep during a ten minute conversation, fer crissakes!"

Diversion: the oil change notification sticker from my local Jiffy Lube says "have a excelant day" on it. They have openings. Valedictorians need not apply.

The sun peeked out for more than ten minutes today, so I seized (Soze? -Ed.) upon the opportunity to ride my bike. I rode 200 blocks. That's about 12 miles, but it sounds more impressive as blocks, dunnit? The map of Seattle is diced with bike trails, and there's one - the Interurban Trail - that starts a block from my house and runs...hell, I think it runs all the way to Canada or something now. I just rode it up to the county line, then stopped and wistfully pondered what suburban wonders must lie beyond before heading back. The best part of the ride was when I saw a guy reading the Sunday paper in his living room. Not too unusual except for the fact that he had an 80-pound tabby cat lounging on the back of his neck. He seemed not to notice, although the cat looked pretty goddamn smug.

It's getting late. I should probably wind this up before - The Weevils! The Weevils! Quick, someone hand me a Shoggoth!

-
Thaddeus