Friday, December 26, 2008

Xmas Xlog

Tis the season to be something....
I suppose there's really nothing to be done about the ubiquity of goddam Christmas songs every Christmas, but lord, one does grow weary. It's either Andy Williams, or someone like him, half-heartedly crooning some song he hates, and we all hate, in palpable boredom, or some damn choir dragging their heels through "Little Drummer Boy," or some diva singing "Silent Night" in a belting voice that wakes the dead. Cripes. It's a Christmas miracle that I got any shopping done.

Here's a piece I wrote a while back that never got published. So here it is for free. Merry effing Xmas.

(Oh. The wee bride gave me the Budd Boetticher western collection for Christmas. I am a happy guy. Randolph Scott! Richard Boone! What more do you want from life?)

Bed & Breakfast & Testosterone
I had the occasion a while back, at the suggestion of my girlfriend at the time, to indulge in a wild, sensual weekend at a Bed & Breakfast in a place very much like Carmel. Setting foot inside a B&B, or a place like Carmel, is not something I would normally do, but hey, she was paying. If she wanted to whisk me away, I was willing to be whisked.

We did eventually have a wild, sensual weekend-- but only after I learned to keep my mouth shut. “Why does this joint have dried flowers everywhere,” I wondered. “It’s called decor,” my girlfriend snapped. “Look it up sometime.”

I also noticed that the B&B had teddy bears everywhere. On an antique chair in a corner: a teddy bear. On the frilly little bench at the foot of the bed: a teddy bear. Sitting on the pillows: a teddy bear.

Teddy bears lined the upper walls of the hallways. Teddy bears perched atop walnut cabinets. And they weren’t just normal teddy bears-- you know, plain brown functional teddy bears-- but teddy bears in frocks, plaid teddy bears, brightly colored teddy bears.

“I don’t think this place has enough teddy bears,” I remarked, perhaps too dryly. “What do you mean,” my girlfriend asked, her eyes narrowing. “They’re cute.”

Well, we broke up soon after. I was too classless and broke for her, and my heart fell when I discovered she could utter the word “lifestyle” without irony. We were doomed.

But I was talking the other day with my current girlfriend about where we would get away-- if we had the disposable income to go anywhere-- and she happened to blurt, “I hate B&B’s.”

My heart swelled! What a gal. If only she had the money to whisk me away to a cheap motel in an iffy part of town....

Then I got to thinking. I’d always liked the IDEA of a Bed & Breakfast, but the actual Bed & Breakfast experience is geared towards the girly girl demographic, if you know what I mean. Potpourri. Crystal. Doilies. Little tiny bottles of conditioner in a wicker basket. A complimentary bottle of red wine. All things twee come with the hefty fee.

Where are the MANLY B&B’s? Isn’t the time ripe for such a thing? Rough hewn timber? A buffalo head and rifle rack in the lobby?

It wouldn’t have a name like Wind Whistler, or Old Chandler House, or Whale Cove Inn, no sir. It would be called The Lair, or Grizzly Den.

Breakfast is served twenty four seven: coffee, eggs, bacon, white toast, no jam. If you want juice, pal, bring your own. There are no waffles, no biscuits, no sausages made from apples and chicken, no fruit, and no decaf. Ask for Egg Beaters, and you will be evicted. No milk. No sugar. We got Lipton’s. You want chamomile and peppermint, go out into the woods and get it yourself. As a matter of fact, if you want any meal other than breakfast, go into the woods and get it yourself. (Rifles provided at the front desk.)

We do not have a host; we have a desk clerk. His name is Sarge. He communicates with grunts. He will not answer any question. He is not friendly. Give him your money, and he will give you a key. (No checks, no credit cards.) Take a right at the “No Wine Allowed” sign, and you’re there.

Rooms do not have names like Riverrun, Dunswold, Caprice, or Mar Vista. They have numbers, big brass numbers pounded into the center of the door with a nail gun.

By that door, you won’t find a pair of slippers, but a pair of hob nail boots. Put ‘em on, buddy!

Yeah, we got amenities. You’ll find a pint of Jack in your bedside drawer, and nothing on cable but the Playboy Channel and westerns. Lifetime, Oxygen, and E! have been blocked. The sheets? Flannel. The blankets? Army issue. The bed is a simple iron frame. Oh, you want a four poster? Queen-sized? Take a hike!

We provide big rough brown towels, and lots of ‘em! No maid will call during your stay with us. Feel like cleaning your carburetor in the bathtub? We sure as hell won’t stop you! It is NOT a clawfoot tub.

There are no carpets. The only visible color is brown. There are six ashtrays in every room, big thick glass ones (unfiltered cigarettes available at the front desk), and a spittoon. There’s a black velvet painting of a big-breasted nude over the bed. To further enhance the experience, outside each window is a neon sign that says “Bar.” The “A” is broken.

There are no seats on the toilets. Old Sears catalogs have been provided for toilet paper. You want heat? There’s a wood stove in the corner. You have to chop the wood yourself. The wood pile’s out back. If you want to grab a .22 from Sarge and plink some rats while you’re out there, be our guest. Ditto raccoons and possum.

Don’t forget, there’s a nudie bar just over the hill, and a twenty four poker game in Room Thirteen. Just tell ‘em Doc sent you.

You like music? There’s an eight track player in every room. No Beyonce. No Dave Matthews. We got Hank Williams, ZZ Top, and Lynyrd Skynyrd. If you don’t like it, there’s the door.

No, we don’t provide a blow drier. No, we don’t provide white fluffy robes with our logo on the pocket. We do not have a logo. Out here, we use wicker and dried flowers for kindling. Got that? We use teddy bears for target practice. There is no spa. There is no golf course. There are no vaulted ceilings. Learn to stoop, pilgrim. Finally, the furniture is not antique, hand crafted, or specially selected. If it doesn’t fall apart when you sit on it, we consider it a good chair. We hope that you will too.

Enjoy your stay. Or don’t. If you want to come back some time, well, that’s up to you. We could care less. Just make a lot of noise when you’re coming up the drive. Sarge can get a little jumpy.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Hell Hole Blog

New one on me...
Doctors have reported the first ever case of someone using the internet while asleep, after a sleeping woman sent emails to people asking them over for drinks and caviar.

The 44-year-old woman, whose case is reported by researchers from the University of Toledo in the latest edition of medical journal Sleep Medicine, had gone to bed at around 10pm, but got up two hours later and walked to the next room.

She then turned on the computer, connected to the internet, and logged on by typing her username and password to her email account. She then composed and sent three emails.

Each was in a random mix of upper and lower cases, not well formatted and written in strange language.

One read: "Come tomorrow and sort this hell hole out. Dinner and drinks, Bring wine and caviar only."

Ha ha ha!
ZZZ-mailing! Get it?

In other news…
Telegraph UK (which seems to specialize in this sort of thing):
The self-exposure, instant fame culture peddled by reality shows, social networking internet sites such as Facebook and – above all – the home video-sharing website YouTube has provided a "perfect storm" for vulnerable people, encouraging them to put their fantasies on a global stage, say researchers.

Joel and Ian Gold, a New York psychiatrist and Montreal academic, say they have been inundated with cases since they first expounded what they have dubbed the "Truman Syndrome" two years ago.

The title refers to the 1998 film starring Jim Carey in which the main character gradually realises his humdrum life is being filmed as a reality television show and that everyone he knows is merely acting.

The condition might seem comical - one man went to a US government building and announced he wanted his show to end - but it tended to be "absolutely debilitating" as sufferers believed they could trust no-one, said Dr Joel Gold, head of psychiatry at Bellevue Hospital in New York.

He said he had recently been contacted by the father of a girl who had contemplated suicide because she believed it was the only way of "getting out of the show".

It was also difficult to treat because, as he had found himself, sufferers will dismiss their doctors and psychiatrists as actors.

Ha ha ha!
Seriously. Quit watching me.

Reptoids unite.
NYT: A Fort Carson soldier and war veteran charged in the murder and sexual assault of a woman in Colorado last month faces accusations that he also raped a 14-year-old girl and sexually assaulted a third woman, an internal Army document states.

It was common knowledge among his commanding officers and fellow soldiers, the document states, that Specialist Marko, who is being held without bond, believed he was an “alien dinosaur-like creature, and that he would transform from his human form into his Black Raptor form on his 21st birthday — 13 Oct 08.”

According to the MSM, the throwing of shoes is a “grave insult” in Islam. Here in secular America, however, the throwing of shoes is a festive occasion, often marked by, um, the throwing of shoes. How well I remember my childhood! Our shoe-tossing parties were legendary. Entire blocks would be cordoned off. Festivities would last for days, at the end of which we would return home, barefoot, exhausted, and yet strangely exhilarated.

Shoes! More! Headlines!
Reuters: “Iraq shoe-thrower inspires Web games”
Oh, go Google. You’ll find one. Do not e-mail a link to me. Thank you.

Reuters: “Egyptian offers daughter to Iraqi shoe-thrower”
How to Pick Up Girls, Chapter Twenty-Seven.

Headline of month!
"Lustful Madonna Offends God"

Poke me with a fork, and stop me from dating dept.
AP: The home of the Whopper has launched a new men's body spray called "Flame." The company describes the spray as "the scent of seduction with a hint of flame-broiled meat."

Can you hear me now?
MSNBC: We take them with us to the dinner table, the bedroom, even the bathroom stall. But in recent years, some of us have started taking our beloved cell phones someplace really startling: the grave.

“It seems that everyone under 40 who dies takes their cell phone with them,” says Noelle Potvin, family service counselor for Hollywood Forever, a funeral home and cemetery in Hollywood, Calif. “It’s a trend with BlackBerrys, too. We even had one guy who was buried with his Game Boy.”

Game Boy?
So, when the cataleptic awakes from his stupor in the coffin, he can play a little Frogger before the oxygen runs out?

Local news
The Wee Bride and I, despite lingering colds, soldiered into the cold and drizzle to devour Indian food and see Bruce Campbell, in person, at the screening of his new (ish) movie MY NAME IS BRUCE, which he directed, and in which he starred, as a parody of himself. The movie was pretty awful (though amusing); on the other hand, Bruce Campbell was in it. And the man himself was there, for a Q & A after the screening. He is notorious for mocking his fans. He did not disappoint. And his fans are mockable. One fellow had had the likeness of Bruce Campbell, from ARMY OF DARKNESS, with chainsaw, tattooed on his back. He shared that with the crowd. He’d spent five hundred dollars on the tattoo. The Wee Bride and I, though fans ourselves, sport no tattoos of his likeness. We do, however, possess several action figures. The Wee Bride asked Bruce about the “Fake Shemp.” (Look it up. It’s in Wikipedia.) Apparently annoyed by the question (as he appears to be by any question), Mr. Campbell nonetheless addressed the Dread Spouse as “ma’am.” And answered the question.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Cremains BLog

Globe and Mail…
… informs me that the Jane Austen’s House Museum has had to crack down on visitors who deposit human ashes there.

In an open letter to the Jane Austen Society, collections manager Louise West wrote: “'It is distressing for visitors to see mounds of human ash, particularly so for our gardener. Also, it is of no benefit to the garden!”

An online commenter from New Zealand posted, regarding this story, “The ashes of the recently deceased contains high amounts of nutrient rich phosphates, just perfect for sprucing up that garden, I can understand the curators resistance to these ashes, but please come up with a valid excuse.”

To which Horrid Bride said, “Yes!” Her little fist in air. Et cetera.

It’s kind of bizarre, however, that a museum would attract this kind of behavior. Whatever happened to scattering ashes on windswept vistas? Surreptitious dumping of ashes at museums seems kind of, well, not to put too fine a point on it – creepy.

What scamps they are!
New Yorker, A Reporter at Large, “Anatomy of a Meltdown, Ben Bernanke and the Financial Crisis,” John Cassidy

One of his first tasks was to deliver a monthly economics briefing to the President and the Vice-President. After he and Hubbard sat down in the Oval Office, President Bush noticed that Bernanke was wearing light-tan socks under his dark suit. “Where did you get those socks, Ben?” he asked. “They don’t match.” Bernanke didn’t falter. “I bought them at the Gap—three pairs for seven dollars,” he replied. During the briefing, which lasted about forty-five minutes, the President mentioned the socks several times.

The following month, Hubbard’s deputy, Keith Hennessey, suggested that the entire economics team wear tan socks to the briefing. Hubbard agreed to call Vice-President Cheney and ask him to wear tan socks, too. “So, a little later, we all go into the Oval Office, and we all show up in tan socks,” Hubbard recalled. “The President looks at us and sees we are all wearing tan socks, and he says in a cool voice, ‘Oh, very, very funny.’ He turns to the Vice-President and says, ‘Mr. Vice-President, what do you think of these guys in their tan socks?’ Then the Vice-President shows him that he’s wearing them, too. The President broke up.”

Glenn Beck, in his blog, claims that this November he was verbally assaulted by a truck driver while standing in line at a Wendy’s restaurant. Beck says the truck driver called him a “racist bigot.” Beck claimed that the “…hatred was palpable.” As his security detail stood between him and his assailant, Beck says the truck driver ended his rant by threatening to run him over.

Beck: "I wanted to say, I think you have me mistaken for someone else, but I knew he knew who I was and he just hated me for who I was…. Wow. Is this who we've become? Is this who we've become?"

On his radio show, Beck said, “I could stand in line with Michael Moore and I wouldn't say that to him. I would say some things to Michael Moore, but it wouldn't be that. Is this who we've become? I believe there is a cauldron of hatred on both sides, but the left is quite frightening. The extreme right is frightening, as well. I don't care if you're a Republican, Democrat, or independent. I don't care who you voted for. We cannot become that person. No matter how passionate -- it took everything in me, it took everything in me not to say anything to him.”

Okay, whatever. Media Matters reveals: “Beck has previously said of Barack and Michelle Obama, ‘[T]here's a socialist agenda there for America.’ He has also described other politicians in similar terms, including calling Sen. Hillary Clinton ‘Comrade Clinton’ and characterizing former Sen. John Edwards (D-NC) as ‘a communist.’”

And here’s Glenn Beck on Michael Moore, from his show, May 17, 2005, according to Media Matters:

“Hang on, let me just tell you what I'm thinking. I'm thinking about killing Michael Moore, and I'm wondering if I could kill him myself, or if I would need to hire somebody to do it. No, I think I could. I think he could be looking me in the eye, you know, and I could just be choking the life out -- is this wrong? I stopped wearing my What Would Jesus -- band -- Do, and I've lost all sense of right and wrong now. I used to be able to say, ‘Yeah, I'd kill Michael Moore,’ and then I'd see the little band: What Would Jesus Do? And then I'd realize, ‘Oh, you wouldn't kill Michael Moore. Or at least you wouldn't choke him to death.’ And you know, well, I'm not sure.”

So: heat, meet kitchen. Why would Beck be surprised by this confrontation anyway? He already has a “security detail,” in anticipation of such an event. Random capital letters alert: HE’S A FUCKING TALK SHOW HOST! WHY DOES HE HAVE A SECURITY DETAIL? AT WENDY’S!

“It took Axl Rose 14 years to complete the latest Guns N’ Roses album. But it took his lawyers only two days to take Dr Pepper to task for not making good on a promise of free soda to ‘everyone in America’ in celebration.”

There seems to be a consensus among critics that CHINESE DEMOCRACY, Guns N’ Roses’ long anticipated album, marks the death of the album as we know it. Some say it sucks, some say it’s excellent, but any road, that’s about it. From now on, it’s just going to be random crap from iTunes. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

This Dr. Pepper thing, though. Man. I was looking forward to my free beverage. I am ticked. Axl Rose, and lawyers, please, kill them. Whoever they are. Dr. Pepper. Lawyers.

Big news from Bangkok!
Reuters: “A maverick Thai general who has threatened to bomb anti-government protesters and drop snakes on them from helicopters has been reassigned as an aerobics teacher….”

Farhad Manjoo:
“More than a year ago, I canceled my cable subscription, figuring I could get all the TV I needed through Netflix and the Web. This has worked out well enough: These days, you can find just about every prime-time show on Hulu or one of the networks' Web sites. There's only one problem: The ads are driving me crazy. Sure, I'm thrilled that there are fewer ads on the Web than on television, where every hourlong program is padded with about 16 minutes of commercials. On the Web, I'm served only two or three minutes of ads per show, but those few minutes are often excruciating. Online video ads are repetitive, banal, completely unsuited to the speed and tone of the Web, and—for a medium rich with personalization—often clueless about my interests and tastes.”

Let me digest this. Okay, he’s annoyed by network television. Because it has too many commercials. So he turns to the Web, which shows less commercials. But the commercials on the Web are even more annoying to him, because they are inappropriate to the “speed and tone of the Web,” whatever that means, and don’t target him as a consumer. And it’s often “clueless about my interests and tastes.” He actually WANTS the Web to know his interests and tastes? He wants the Web to know him personally? Does he want to have sex with the Web?

Oh, and by the way, do actors or writers get paid for downloads from Hulu? Just asking. I hate us.

Apparently, Barack Obama was, in fact, born. This should make his transition into presidency much easier.