07 December 2009

insults from 3rd string strippers

and another sign of aging, reminding me that the way i look at my classmates and think how old they've become while i've stayed the same, is the way my classmates look at me and think the same.

this weekend, after a bout of gambling (giving reparations to the tribe), four of us ended up at a local strippery. once made famous by nick nolte for hanging out there and stalking a stripper in full mug shot glory, once made more famous by being the only strip club that shared a building with a head start, and once made even more famous by my friend dino who, after attending one evening, asked loudly if it was burn victim night, scooters is low brow local stripper entertainment thirteen glorious miles from dowagiac. the second strip club, 13 miles in a different direction from dowagiac, was shut down last year after being busted for various counts of prostitution, drug peddling, and hiv infections.

at any rate, scooters is entertaining. and cheap. one gets to appreciate a fine variety of body styles and drug addictions. this evening there were about six women, and only one who had recently (perhaps earlier that evening) given birth. we were the only customers.

needless to say, we were popular. then one of the women, who had taken root at our table, a delightful 23-year-old dominatrix, was talking to n and asked if she had married an older man. n told her yes, she had married an older man (me)--one year older. shocked, the dominatrix looked at me and said, "god, are you under a lot of stress? you look a lot older than her."

she spent the rest of the evening trying to ascertain the cause of my stress. it was an urgent mission, i suppose, since i appear so close to death.

i am left to wonder: if a stripper, who makes a living lying to people in a positive way to get money, says i look awful, what do the people i don't pay think.

photo absent from this post intentionally.

15 November 2009

moustache is hard to spell

so much to report, but before i begin a rash of posts, i figure i should plug my friend elmer's efforts to cure cancer of the manly parts.

i admire people who do charitable things. elmer volunteers, gets involved, cares. every so often i am able to shed some of my own guilt for not being as nice by sending a couple bucks to help one of his causes.

his latest is growing a moustache for movember, the man cancer awareness month of november. he grows a moustache, people give him money. the money goes for prostate cancer research and the bike guy's charity.

check out his moustache and send five or ten bucks to him if you care to. here's the link:

if you donate and leave a message that i sent you, i'll match your donation. really.

05 October 2009

police on my back

saturday at the minnow, like many saturdays at the minnow--slow to start, then chit chat with employees diminishes as band sets up, people come in. out-of-towners and old people (like my age) first, then finally around midnight the fun crowd, back from weddings or parties or sleep, the people whose saturday evening never begins before a minute into sunday.

so all was well and all was normal except a big group of moronic south bend cops overflowing from the table next to ours. the three biggest ones (between 6'5" and 6'8", all 300+ pounds) were the stupidest, and the stupiest of those a low brow (literally) who took delight in squeezing (not slapping) his friends' ample asses.

they tried to use our table as their garbage can. one leaned over me to tap ashes into our ash tray. i moved it away and told him to get his own ash tray. after convincing him that i was serious, n had to contend with the guy who kept putting his empty beer cans on our table. she kept handing them back to him, telling him that we wern't a dumpster. add profanity.

it went back and forth. they kept trying to taunt us. one giant kept calling me a pussy. i guess standing up to giants is a pussy thing to do in south bend cop world.

anyway, so as a crowd of friends and well wishers formed around our table, the taunts slacked off. then when people were on the dance floor, the ass squeezer came up to me and put his arm on my shoulder. i thought he might be drunk enough to apologize. he continued the taunts.

as we were leaving, i decided to say goodbye. i tapped low brow on the shoulder and told him i hoped he enjoyed our area and that he would enjoy spending more time here in jail. he became irate and asked me how i could say such a thing. "you're drunk, you're stupid, and you're from out of state. i imagine you'll be picked up when you leave."

so dumb ass kept following me, yelling at me, and, as i was smiling at him and leaving, he shoved me. i looked back at him and saw two delightfully large locals coming at him and then the owner coming at him from the other direction.

18 August 2009

i don't know my cousins

at the minnow, harlow tells me about some sort of cool web site that i can post stuff i want to get rid of and people will pick it up. she says it takes less than a day to unload a broken washing machine. "just google dowagiac recycle," she says.

that didn't work. then i remembered she called it freecycle. i look that up and find that it is a yahoo group. i go to the group and it tells me i'm not a member.

so i try to use my old yahoo id, bigbadjerryyang, and it no longer exists. i sign up for it again. questions, questions, questions. when i get to the "pick a security question," i'm stumped. i don't know which of my aunts is my favorite. my kids don't have nicknames. i don't have favorite movies longer than a week. i don't know the name of my oldest cousin. i'm fairly certain i have about 100 cousins, a few of whom i met as a child, but we didn't really get close enough to discuss names or ages.

i pick a random question and write licedung as my answer.

then i must choose another security question just in case i forget licedung. this group has one question i can answer: favorite author. i type in the name. "your response cannot be the same as your password," yahoo tells me. my new favorite author is pussmunch.

now i get to retype the squiggly letters. my poor eyesight and lack of art education make this task nearly impossible. three tries, though, and i'm bigbadjerryyang again.

i go to search groups. dowagiac freecycle doesn't exist. i will continue to put crap by the side of the road. it works without a password.

17 August 2009


today the rain in the morning was heavy. in the afternoon i spent 45 minutes crying to this song.

03 August 2009

naked neighborhood: the conclusion

we got a sunday paper yesterday. it's been years since i read one. what i was most impressed by were the coupons.

i clipped some, and for the first time in my life decided to save money at the grocery store. i looked forward to saving a dollar on that new deal you can stick in your dryer to get rid of dryer sheets. having a dryer sheet surprise me during the day by peeking out of my pants legs is getting old. if this giant block gets stuck in my pants, i should notice it before arriving at work.

i had five coupons. i gave them all to the check out lady. two beeped correctly. others inspired a strange nervous sigh from the checkout lady. one registered twice. management had to be called. people behind me in line edged forward and began blaming me for all their life's problems. ten minutes later, i ended up having to find two dollars in my pocket to pay for their miscalculation, and the people behind me in line had decided it was all my fault. maybe there's a reason i don't use coupons. i'm still excited, though, about the dryer thing.

oh, and the wrap up of the driveway clothes mystery: the cop finally called and loudly explained that it wasn't as interesting as he had hoped. the guy had been very drunk and didn't remember any of it. the shorts and underwear were his; the shoes belonged to his buddy. he had never heard of my street. he woke up naked in his friend's truck. given that his friend lives about five blocks away, there is still more to this story than anyone will ever know.

01 August 2009

naked neighborhood II (of III)


so when n first saw the shoes under the truck (she hadn't mistaken them for a skunk), she thought i had run over someone the night before.

that is one of the only possibilities i can cross off the list.

here's the big news, though: now the police are involved. i went out to bag the evidence, and when i was picking up the shorts with a stick, i noticed they were heavy. the fruit of the loom underwear were also a little heavy, but that was due to moistness. the shorts were also moist. had the guy jumped in my pool and then disrobed? no. only the bottom of the shorts and underwear were wet. my guess is urine, but i didn't investigate too thoroughly.

i checked the shorts' pockets and found a pack of cheyenne cigarettes, a lighter, and some change in one pocket. not wet. in the other pocket, i found a wallet. it contained about 150 dollars, many pay check stubs from turf services, and a drivers license. weird became weirder.

i called the police because of the wallet, saying "i have to report something weird." the cop who came agreed it was strange and looked forward to hearing how the guy would explain it. what would cause a guy to leave his clothes, wallet, and last three cigarettes in my driveway? what kind of night could that be?

i explained that the shorts and underwear were moist. "maybe he peed his pants so he left them," i offered.

"i wouldn't leave my shorts if i just pissed myself," the cop said. "maybe if i shit myself, but not just pissing." i nodded.

i interviewed the neighbors who said they saw a shoeless guy walking around about 11:30. he was wearing shorts or boxer shorts or something. but no shoes. maybe he left stuff in my driveway in two shifts--first the shoes, then his shorts.

hopefully, the mystery will soon be solved. the cop promised to call me when he found out something. i sit anxiously.

naked neighborhood

here in the middle west, the first door opening of the day--to let the cat our while the coffee brews--often leads to a minor crime scene investigation. if csi: dowagiac were on tv, the investigators wouldn't focus on murder; instead, the show would begin each week with the team leader looking down at the ground, saying, "check out this weird shit."

a couple weeks ago i had a 40 oz covered in bloody fingerprints appear in my garbage can. this morning i saw what i thought was a sleeping skunk by my car. here's what it was.

i approach.

here's the first pretty sight.

here is my skunk, under the truck.

why someone chose to get naked and leave their clothes in my driveway, i may never know. i will tag the items and file them with other bits of evidence in the garage. any help solving this week's mystery is appreciated.

30 July 2009


i realize i am above foolish consistency and that we all contain multitudes. i shouldn't hold too adamantly to any opinion, since there is a possibility i will disagree with myself at some point. yep. i believe those things. still, lately i feel like i've sold myself out.

it started with shrimp. i make a point of not eating it. then, just for something to do, i ate it four days straight.

eating the shrimp had a profound effect on my life. now nothing seems off limits.

i have made a point of sneering at people who pay for tv. i have lectured about the waste of money and the poor product. tomorrow afternoon, the cable guy comes. i still don't want a million channels. i told the person who excitedly offered me unlimited nfl for ten bucks, that i would pay him ten dollars to leave it off. why then? my wife likes to watch news in the morning, and i like to watch chef ramsey without having to stand by the wall with my arms in the air.

the switch to digital has made free tv worth exactly what we pay for it. i'm down to two channels in the living room and one in the bedroom. during storms, the only weather reports we get are when a tree limb crashes onto our roof.

so i've signed a deal with the devil. god will forgive the shrimp, but i'm not sure about the cable. wait until next week when i, the last guy in america without a cell phone, may buy one just to get rid of the telemarketers who live on my landline. it will be all over then.

20 May 2009

symptoms of being

there was a ring lardner book called symptoms of being 35 written in the 1920s that always sounded to me like symptoms of being 55. being 35 in the 1920s i reasoned is like being 55 now.

i overestimated.

being in one's mid forties is like being in one's mid thirties at the beginning of the last century.

here are some symptoms i've encountered recently:

today i had to fill out an insurance form and it required writing information from my check (which i also had to attach). i studied the microscopic print on the bank's address for many minutes--moving the check to various angles, looking for the right combination of light and focus which would enable me to determine if the zip code contained two sixes, two eights, or a six and an eight. i ended up looking up the bank online to get larger print.

we had a party at the house last friday, and the part of it that most satisfied me was that everyone was gone by 10:30 and i was asleep by 11:00.

my neck hurt today, and the reason wasn't a great strain or car accident. i had looked up at the ceiling.

i look forward to tomorrow evening, because i have nothing to do.

17 May 2009

i ran out of impatiens

playing catch-up today and looking forward to slowing down a bit, checking out some blogs, drawing bad cartoons, putting down patio blocks.

obama was in the neighborhood today, so we went to lowe's. no picketing at all there, though some of their employees were clogging up the aisles. i sensed a protest.

uglywife spent the day in the dirt, and the last time i saw her, she stood over a dozen holes and told me she had run out of impatiens. flower humor always gets to me.

my indoor project of the last few months continues to prove my theory of work planning. i started the day estimating four more hours of work. after four hours, i now estimate four more hours of work. this has gone on for a few weeks. i think it began as a twenty hour chore.

and that is all. supper making calls.

10 May 2009

slaughter of the innocents

for the last couple weeks i have been treeing--pulling out the hundreds of baby trees growing where they shouldn't. i'm not allowing the parent trees to keep any of their offspring. i feel pretty bad about it, but it's a tradition.

it's also about the only outdoor task i am allowed to do. i can tell the difference between a baby tree and any other plant and the difference between a bird and a rock, but that's about the extent of my outdoor identification abilities.

everything looks so similar when young. so many shared genes.

so once again, i kill to restore order. i celebrate the birth of spring by turning the babies into early mulch. ownership always leads to death. the chaos i love in the woods bothers me in my own yard. i suppose that's why most of us prefer to have a house-trained cat or dog living with us rather than a mongoose or wild turkey.

really, most of the trees wouldn't have been trees if winter hadn't come early and hidden the seeds from the squirrels. but here's what i was thinking when pulling a record crop of trees: so many started so a few can live--the few that get by my view until it seems too mean (or requires too much work) to pull them up--like the millions of eggs laid in my pond that mostly become food for something else.

and i look around and see so many humans like baby trees and wonder what big hand is coming to pluck us and which of us will be lucky enough to be out of sight.

04 May 2009

15 minutes of knowledge

passive learning is the best sleep aid ever invented. students have known this for years.

most every night, we go to bed and dial up a documentary (cool netflix box). i put down what i'm reading and begin watching. i am interested. i am learning. then, 15 minutes later i'm asleep.

here's what i've learned:

king corn: two guys find corn in their hair, move to iowa, and plant one acre of corn. it may or may not have grown.

three part history of egypt: the egyptians are taken over. they plot to gain power. next episode they seem to have power again and begin building things. final episode, egypt remains egypt. (i may not have made the whole 15 minutes there).

lewis and clarke (tried five consequtive nights): lewis and clark hang out with the woman from the dollar coin, though they pronounce her name differently. they run into lots of europeans as they travel where no white man has gone before. at some point they reach the coast and try to hail a ship. i think they still might be there.

secret societies: the statue of liberty may or may not be a symbol of the illuminati and the masons. coincidentally, a beacon of light symbolizes the same thing to the secret societies as it does to everyone else. then bush joins the skull and bones. not sure if he becomes president.

history of the universe (tried three times): the universe is old.

and on and on. i've learned very little about a multitude of topics. overall, though, i've learned the power of learning. it packs the sleeping punch of a bottle of bourbon without the side effects.

30 April 2009

tulip mutilation hits backyard

like devil worshipers, aliens have been known to mutilate cows and pigs. i remember that the aliens regularly lopped heads and udders and such from cows before they found the more peaceful farm activity of leaving designs in corn fields.

but the corn circle hobby must have gotten boring. they're back to mutilation, and they've chosen my backyard to begin.

they are severing the heads off of perfectly harmless tulips right at their prettiest. the plants are neatly nipped right below the flower, and the flowers are moved five to fifteen feet away.

the tulips stood proud amongst the mud and wild onions that early spring bring to the drizzly yard. now half are beheaded. their crime? being beautiful. aliens hate beauty. and cows. reward offered for the capture and mutilation of backyard aliens.

27 April 2009

wind sensitivity

it hasn't made the news. no one is talking about global winding. well, i am. long story short: it has been very windy here for the last couple months, and i don't like it.

if i recall correctly from my class on meteorological psychology, long periods of heat make people kill, and long periods of wind make people want to kill themselves. casper, wyoming, a very windy place, has an alarmingly high suicide rate (though, as anyone in casper can tell you, there may be other factors as well).

adding to the problem, the wind increase has coincided with the switch to digital tv. yes, i am an antenna guy. under the old system, when the weather was bad, we got fuzzy pictures and sometimes static. i could watch it. with the upgrade, the wind turns every show into max headroom stutters and frozen frames of cubist art.

the wind intensifies on mondays and thursdays, the two nights i watch tv (big bang on tuesday, hell's kitchen on thursday). i sit beside the tv on those nights, arm ready to adjust and re-adjust the antenna, sometimes holding my body in awkward positions (seems to help), trying to outsmart the wind which works hard to destroy my shows while somehow preserving the commercials.

24 April 2009

posted no trespassing

sometimes the weather is enough. it is hot, sunny, buggy, but perfect. the outdoors begs for a two-day backyard binge, so we will give in to its wishes.

frogs barking at each other, mounting and slapping one another, birds gathering straw and hair, and we--enough yard work for the day, we sit and drink and wait for visitors and red noses.

i hope the guest list will be long. come on over.

21 April 2009

paper in my pipes

Two activities I enjoy engaging in are writing notes on random objects and taking on sporadic cleaning/organizing chores. I write things and forget about them. Later, on a cleaning whim, I discover lost thoughts. This method is more enjoyable than always knowing what I think.

Today I began cleaning the drawer next to my bed. Amongst the hundred or so notes on paper scraps, 3 x 5s, envelopes, and bar coasters, I found a friend's voice.

My friend John died last year, but he left bits of himself on pieces of paper, many of which I am happy to have, like little breadcrumbs leading back to his smirk.

Here's what I found: an article he printed off for me on 8 January 2008, entitled "Prehistoric Mold Found in Denver Sewer." The article describes a giant mold which likes to live in pipes (reminding it of what 250 million years ago I can only guess). I remember him showing me the article, excitedly speculating on the life of giant molds. Below the article in his handwriting is what he thought the mold should be called: "Brian the Bryozoan."

Thanks, John.

13 April 2009

new issue, new look

i've been working on the new uglycousin rather than on the blog. the new issue is up now. check it out. leave comments. tomorrow: tangle theory.

08 April 2009

don't bring me down

i haven't been blogging much lately simply because i've been a little busier and perhaps less creative than what passes for normal. then i noticed today that my last two blogs made people worry, and that isn't something i normally like to do. no tales of random acts of drinking at the wounded minnow, no revelations about the sham wow (buy something called sham and complain you've been ripped off?), no observations about the debates of the world stage played out in small town middle america. what instead? a story about an pancreas and a "poem" about early death.

sorry about that. the entry that preceeded my long absence was about my pancreas gaining consciousness. it was just a story born from a conversation had over a trash can with my wife. we were thinking that stomach noises might be attempts at communication. i chose pancreas because i like the way it sounds. people wondered if i was alright. they thought i was talking about my actual pancreas. i'm fine, and i really do appreciate the concern. i am very fortunate that my fiction didn't manifest in real life and strike me down with a bad case of gut rot. i believe in the hex. i haven't had the flu in years, i might say, and then be striken the next day.

spring does give me a little more sadness than usual, though, so it comes out in my attempts at poetry. what i said in the poem is simply what i was thinking about while looking in the backyard that morning before writing. it has been nearly three years since i lost my son, and it isn't something i generally bring up in conversation, but it will come out from time to time (usually indirectly) in my writing.

though today with that crazy grand-girl trying to type over my shoulder as i write this, i think the world is pretty good. next entry i'll make fun of something again.

06 April 2009

the cruelest month

out past the just-green grass
turned white this groaning morning,
a lone daffodil droops.

bent by wet april snow
its yellow promise nudges
the cold dirt. no sun can
unbend it now. it's over.

the daffodil's april
like waking from a coma
to catch the flu--or die.

my beautiful boy born in spring,
died in spring. warm day, filled
with promise, sunward smile.

13 March 2009


My pancreas developed consciousness last week.

I’m sure last week was just the end of a long process of self discovery, but I didn’t sense the baby steps.

If I could stick a mirror in my guts and my pancreas had eyes (and maybe that will come soon), it would recognize itself. I don’t know if it would smile upon recognition. I’m certain it wouldn’t wave.

What it does have is a sense of self and an awareness of its condition. Realizing that it must work and work 24 hours a day with no break, it is feeling overwhelmed and unappreciated. Making matters worse, it knows that no one is helping it. In fact, I (which it no longer associates with) make its job worse by drinking gallons of coffee and alcohol and very little else. “Bastard makes poor decisions, and I have to clean up after him,” it thinks loudly. The bile rises, but to a pancreas, bile tastes like honey. Gags me, though, and I guess that's the point.

Despite what it would mean to its own existence, my pancreas has considered going on strike—or quitting altogether.

It now demands to be called Phil and threatens to refer to me simply as human until I show it the respect it deserves.

Last night it felt claustrophobic. Trapped, dark, crowded, unable to break away. “I’m buried alive,” it screamed. And, unable to run away or go to sleep, it simply shook until fatigue set in. It tried to kick my gallbladder out of the way, but the duodenum blocked its advances. "Such a crowded neighborhood, such a meaningless existence," it muttered.

If my gallbladder develops consciousness too, the two will join forces in a sort of internal labor union or beat each other to death. Either way, I’m a goner. Whoever said ignorance is bliss, certainly had the pancreas in mind.

07 March 2009

please show us batman's butthole

a few weeks ago, i made up a rumor to spread about tarantino adding swears and violence to movie classics so they would appeal to a modern audience. i wish it weren't so close to true.

last night i watched a pg-13 comic, watchmen, made into an r movie with nothing added, only subtracted, from the overall effect. the longish sex scene was stupid. more hot costumed scenes would have been more provocative. the graphic violence made the violence somehow less real. but the most distracting part, that everyone is talking about is the giant blue penis. other than the ridiculous christian bale impression in the movie, nothing distracts more from the well crafted story that the blue whale floating around on the screen. no one will ever be able to watch the smurfs or the blue man group again in the same way.

i figure, given the size of dr. manhattan's penis on the giant screen, multiplied by cells per second, multiplied by the number of minutes this thing was on the screen, i witnessed more than 45 miles of blue penis last night. why didn't any of his friends tell him to put some clothes on? wouldn't you mention to a friend: hey, you're swinging that thing around my face, man. could you at least wrap it in aluminum foil?

if we must continue to draw attention to super heroes with lingering looks at their genitalia, let's be fair and original. we need big screen female parts, too--and not some covered up by a 70s game show host's hair either (i'm thinking bert convey, here, but most will do). real, shaved up american lady parts. wonder woman versus the gynecologist, maybe. an x-men movie in which storm talks to people while bottomless and constantly bending over for no apparent reason.

and by 2020, let's see movies in which all superheros spend a large portion of the movies crapping in public. close up. i for one, can't wait.

02 March 2009


a piney squirrel moved into our garage over the winter. she is small enough to come and go under the door. i don't have too much of a problem with this. other than a brief period after reading ted nugent's newest book and wanting to kill squirrels as he does, i have had a laissez faire attitude toward it. i have the space. the little squirrel can be my temporary guest.

she doesn't thank me though. today it scampered somewhere over my head and chattered at me. it didn't sound threatening, but it didn't seem like a friendly greeting either. i suppose she doesn't like my increased trips in and out of her appartment to cut wood.

she is a messy houseguest as well. it has destroyed bird food bags, knocked things off shelves, and even put a wallnut in one of my bags of nails.

it all reminds me of an experience a friend had while handing out charity food at thanksgiving. people complained that they wanted something different. they were angry about the lines. i think one person through a wallnut at her. charity is a rough road. i think i will limit my future endeavors to more impersonal acts of kindness, like filling out those shamrocks at the gas station for jerry's kids. it's fun to write cryptically dirty things in those anyway.

bleeding time

i am officially on spring break, though there is no spring or break. i'm trying to break up the normal work of writing evaluations and grading things by putting some serious effort into my wall project--dividing a room, installing two closets, putting in a slider door. such projects often consume me. i can see the next step, so i like to keep working. this, of course, puts me behind on other things i think i should be doing.

i've found the only way to stop is by bleeding. a good gaping wound requires me to move onto something less physical. one can't hammer with blood squirting. i guess it's possible, but i don't want to replace the carpet too.

today i was saved at 4:30. don't know how it happened. rarely do. the blood appears on pants and floors, and i look around to see where it is coming from. my bandage of choice is a paper towel. now the typing has re-opened it. i guess writing is too physical as well.

23 February 2009

alligators and chickens

i've been blogging on sheets of paper shoved in pockets rather than online. the comments i get are few but interesting. i will begin unloading my pockets today--starting with the least interesting scrap of paper.

another strange combination of tv shows has changed my world view. we've been watching leave it to beaver season one. on the third episode beaver buys an alligator though the mail. he is disappointed it is so small. i am shocked into remembering my own childhood when such things were possible. a kid could buy an alligator or baby chicks from ads in the back of a comic book. every dime store had packets of "mexican jumping beans" at the counter (poor little grubs stuck in nuts). living things were toys. such cruelty is hard to imagine in today's world.

then we watched a documentary on the secret life of chickens. no high-waisted pants like on leave it to beaver, but interesting nonetheless. one part of the show focused on egg laying factories. six or seven chickens stuck in each pen, unable to move their wings, pecking at food and laying eggs until they die. i'm pretty sure such facilities weren't around in the 1950s. such cruelty would be hard to imagine in yesterday's world.

16 February 2009

the machines are calling

despite putting my name on every do-not-call list over and over again and despite being one of the least pleasant people to call, i continue to get sales calls. i get fewer and fewer human callers; perhaps they put me on thier list because of my various routines.

sometimes i ask a lot of questions, like: do i know you? i'm sorry if i've forgotten. could you tell me how i know you again? are you related to george?

sometimes i just yell "jerry?" over and over.

sometimes i pretend not to understand what they are talking about. why would i give money to the heart disease fund? i'm against heart disease.

sometimes i ask for something they don't have. that insurance plan doesn't sound appealing, but i could use some bread. i'll give you five bucks if you would bring some over.

and on and on (and of course there is the crazy swearing tirade).

but now it's a machine. over and over for several months i get the same call: "This is your last opportunity to lower the interest rates on your credit card. . ." I have hung up. I have dialed one to refuse the offer. Twice I have dialed two to speak to a representative (to get their name and number so I can report them). Both times I get put on hold for twenty minutes before the machine hangs up on me. What can it be? If they are selling something, what could they be selling by not saying who they are or what they offer, and have no one to talk to? I suspect terrorists. Please let me know if you have any information so I can forward to homeland security.

12 February 2009

uglycousin 6 now online

i interrupt my normal blogging to announce the coming of uglycousin 6: the lost ugly issue. we usually feature great poems and stories that have been previously rejected by other publications. in this issue we decided that reading submissions was hard. it would be easier just to put up some of our own stuff. so this issue is uglyangie's "kisses from the trash," and seven short shorts of mine. read, enjoy, get ugly.

i will resume blogging as soon as you visit uglycousin. if interested, read the submission guidelines for the next issue. we will fade into the background once again.

11 February 2009

little dreams, big dreams

i find that in my real life i'm satisfied with little dreams. i'm not too ambitious in the standard sense of the word. my bucket list: finish organizing the basement. my dream body (meaning one i would like to have): jim belushi. i've got enough to eat, i've got enough house, i don't mind my job, i've got plenty to read, i get to go to the minow a couple times a week, and i am satisfied in my personal and family relationships. i don't even have any issues from childhood to deal with. i hope my cat is able to lose weight, but that's the closest to a real concern i have.

my life is like a willa cather novel, i think (and not just in the way that they often go off in strange directions for a while or the way in which they often include czech characters). if you catalogue the horrible events and tragedies that occur in one of her novels, it looks like the saddest books ever. after reading one, though, there is a sort of peaceful, happy aftertaste.

in nighttime dreams, though, i like big adventure. if i say i dream of being a movie star, i mean at night. i was reading a dream sort of comic in Daniel Clowe's Caricature last night, and i think we dream in the same world--cool discoveries, giant buildings growing out of nowhere, familiar people in unfamiliar places. when i sleep i am highly ambitious. i like to leave town and seek new adventures. during the day, i'm satisfied by vacumming and yelling at the cat until uglywife comes home.

09 February 2009

medieval job market

we've been watching an old pbs series about medieval times. some of the jobs seem pretty cool. since the job market isn't all that great in dowagiac, michigan, i'm thinking of moving to medieval times and changing careers.

peasant: bad title, not a bad job. sure, there's the toil, but the taxes are lower than here. you only have to work a couple months for the landowner, rather than nearly four months for the government.

doctor: they get to experiment on people, which is always fun. apparently, being wholistic healers, they evaluate the humors (which i have done before), and then look at the person's urine. the only downside to the job is that part of the urine inspection is a taste test. "hmmm, your urine seems to be sweet. we will have to let some blood."

monk: i like the clothes. most of them got hookers, too. i'm afraid i couldn't learn the sign language, though. it seemed very elaborate.

philosopher: best job ever. it is perfect for the dabbler like me. sure, there's the contemplation, but there is also cool chemical experiements, and the ability to give unsolicited advice to kings.

knights and outlaws and minstrals have too high a liklihood of getting killed. the clothes are too flashy for me as well. so i'm going to scan the medieval classifieds for philosopher openings. it may finally be my time to move.

08 February 2009

save money with scott and oprah

once again, while scanning through channels, i hit upon oprah giving money saving tips to rich people. it was the end of the segment, and oprah said something like "our experts were able to save this family more than 2000 dollars a month." most people i know are unable to find 2000 dollars a month.

oprah acts astonished as her experts uncover great money saving secrets like "bring your own lunch to work," "get a cheaper phone plan," and "do some of your own yard work rather than spend hundreds a month on your lawn crew." people i know make decisions about their "lawn crew" like who's turn is it to mow? or can i get another year out of this old mower?

a word of advice to those that can afford such things: stop listening to oprah. spend like crazy. your laziness and excesses are what we need to stimulate the economy.

a few money saving tips for the rest of us:

1) to save money on shoes, simply "try on" a pair at wal mart and continue to test drive them for a couple months. when you leave your old ones behind, it isn't really stealing. it's trade. wal mart is doing fine.

2) to save on groceries, become a popular dinner guest. visit people at meal times. turn down the first request to stay by saying "no, i don't want to impose"; then stay out of politeness. bonus points for bringing home leftovers.

3) to save on gasoline, coast as much as possible. on flat, well-paved, surfaces, shut off the car, pretend it won't start, and push it for a block or two. sometimes others will pitch in.

4) to save on home heating, turn your thermostat all the way down. get a refrigerator box from an appliance store, and remove enough insulation from the attic to cover the box. you will find that sitting inside of the box inside your home will be very comfortable all winter long.

next time, how to tan with generic cheetos and how to drain neighbors' hummingbird feeders to make a refreshing summertime drink.

05 February 2009

teeth whitening

readers of my sad little comic, sat, know that i had a horrible experience with hair dye while trying to make myself younger looking for vacation last summer. in a 24 hour period i had my head scorched, feared losing my hair, and looked at various points like ronald mcdonald and sharon osborne.

now it is teeth whitening. we tried strips last month. getting the strips out of the wrapper proved to be too difficult to me. when i got them out and tried to stick them to my teeth, i succeeded about 30 percent of the time. i believe i whitened my tongue and nose much more than my teeth.

yesterday i was at the dollar store and saw boxes of tooth whitening for only seven bucks. no sticky strips and only five minutes for results. i bought two boxes. uglywife and i sat in bed trying to find the right combination of light and magnifying lenses to read the instructions.

step one: mix up some noxious pre-rinse (which we did in shot glasses), swish and rinse. not too bad. i hardly vomited at all. i did gag once, though, which made uglywife spit half of hers on my arm.

step two: put an even bead of the white stuff on each side of the little mouth piece, stick it in the mouth, bite down, and hold for at least five minutes. we did it. what followed could pry secrets out of enemy spies. apparently we put too much stuff on the mouth piece. big globs of it swam around my tongue and threatened to cut off my air supply. (i swallowed it, by the way, which the box says is not a good thing.)

the taste was overwhelming. imagine a chemical that could clean barnacles from ships. between gagging and laughing and crying, it was amazing that we managed to last the entire five minutes. every natural reflex had to be subdued to accomplish the task.

i'm not sure how it will do as a tooth whitener, but it would be an excellent diet plan. there is no way to put anything in your mouth for at least eight hours after a whitening. maybe some things aren't meant to be bought generic. i'm so cheap, though, i will continue the torture until the giant bottles are gone, or until it buries me. my corpse will be brilliantly white, but i'll be too toxic to put in the ground.

03 February 2009

boring bob's back

we ran into boring bob down at the minnow last week. we hadn't seen him in some time--forever, as the kids say. his real name is bob. i give him the name "boring bob" to disguise his identity. and because he's boring. in fact, we learned he had grown even more boring. but i guess you can't expect an oak tree to grow less oaky.

he was at the minnow to meet with fellow classmates from 1989 to plan their upcoming reunion. when his classmates arrived they proved the theory that all smart and good looking people have fled the midwest.

bob went up and hugged a women whose fat hung from her like sacks of tears. the reunion will be a sad affair. i hope it will be at the minnow so i can watch.

at any rate, i saw bob, i yelled "bob," as i used to do. he lunkered over, head down a little, glasses foggy from the temperature change. i asked how he was doing. "fine." i said i hadn't seen him in a while. "well, cheaper to drink at home. the economy, you know." i asked him if he was still working. "yea, same job, doing pretty well." i guess his economic worries were adopted to fit in.

i have no idea what, if anything, he said next. in years past his boring behavior was amusing. now his mannerisms and soft eeyore voice triggered self-hypnosis. i was transported to a different place and time.

i have attempted many times to clear my mind in meditation and found that i lack the discipline and focus. all i needed to do was invite bob to talk to me and my mind would be filled with blissful nothingness. god bless boring bob, the boring bodhisattva.

02 February 2009

monday's unsolicited advice

to commercial makers in general: stop the violence.

to pepsi in particular: stop the nonsensical "historical" connections.

first things first. i like violence, profanity, and pornography as much as the next person. i also know that american humor has a violent streak (and have even studied it to the point of humorlessness). that being said, such things in my advertisements don't appeal to me. a little self-deprecation, a clever double entendre, or a little sex appeal are fine. going over the edge to explicitness in any catagoy doesn't seem right. i noticed a lot of guns and car chases and punches in the commercials this year, and i didn't like it. at least nothing was as bad as last year's offering from the american heart association, in which people dressed as things bad for the heart grabbed an old man, took him in an alley, and beat the crap out of him. not nice to beat the elderly.

and now, pepsi. i have been dedicated to pepsi products for my entire adult and near adult life. i buy pepsi for the same reason that anyone buys a particular brand of something that tastes pretty much like the other brands: tradition. i'm a michigan fan and i drink pepsi. god bless bob seger, eucher, and peach schnopps. i don't pretend to be a thinking man.

so what did they do to lose my business? in one of their less than memorable commercials, they were pairing images from 30 or 40 years ago with images from today. i guess the message was: america can't come up with anything original and neither can we. the only images that i remember are those that angered me. on the left of the screen was john belushi. on the right was jack black. please. i shouldn't have to explain why this comparison is odious. i want to like jack black, but haven't been able to very often. belushi was funnier, smellier, more original, crazier, made better movies, and could consume a hell of a lot more drugs than black.

though belushi said, "no coke. pepsi," i now say neither. i put my vote in for "whatever is on sale."

31 January 2009

being it

bambi tagged me, so i will do the right thing rather than write about last night's minnow happenings (later?).

The rules:
1. Link to the person who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on your blog.
3. Write six random things about yourself.
4. Tag six people at the end of your post and link to them.
5. Let each person know they’ve been tagged and leave comment on their blog.
6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

ok. here's 6 random things about my life

  1. i hate hair. i like it on heads, but nowhere else. i spend a great deal of time each day removing it from where it has fallen and curse its resolve to remain in place.
  2. i've always wanted to be a barber. despite my hair hatred and my inability to cut anything straight, i would enjoy standing and chatting with surprise guests all day. if only i could get paid for barbering without the cutting part--head touching? i'm not sure what the pole would look like.
  3. i am best at being alone when someone else is around.
  4. public pizza eating makes me a greedy pig. i avoid almost all public eating experiences because i like to eat with friends only, and because i worry about getting my fair share. i blame a no-food childhood for this. "mom, can gary stay for supper?" "no. we only have one can of ravioli."
  5. some afternoons i find songs on youtube that make me cry. i sit, i cry, i go back to vacuuming. maybe this has something to do with #3.
  6. when i talk to people, i wonder about what they're not saying, and sometimes i can figure it out. i wonder if they sense that regardless of what i'm doing or saying, i am haunted by loss.
and those i tag because they seem cool and i would like to learn more about them:
early spring mud puddle at an off angle
my friend uglyangie

and a refused tag yelled across the room to:

30 January 2009

7th generation

rmj, the 7th generation of my family in dowagiac, and i spend a little time together a couple times a week so her mother can go to the gym. yesterday, my attempts to amuse her didn't go so well. she seemed to enjoy laying on her back or arching her back or looking at the cat, but these things held her attention for about as long as things hold my attention.

i decided to have her sit in front of the webcam with me so we could blog. she liked it for a second.

then all the pressure that comes from being the sole representative of the 7th generation seemed to get to her, and she cried. it is very difficult to express one's self with a vocabulary limited to gurgles and screams. it keeps the receiver of the message at a distinct disadvantage.

at one point, i walked her into the dining room to stare at the ceiling, which she seems to enjoy. this worked until i made the grave mistake of singing. i thought babies liked that. apparently, she isn't sending me to hollywood.

28 January 2009

zero effort accomplishment

today i rushed home to meet the furnace guy. i thought i had better shovel a path for him and check the kitty litter just in case the cat decided to stink up the basement rather than my office. i imagine the furnace business is filled with catshit afternoons, and i don't want to add to that.

neither snow nor poop had fallen since i had left in the morning, so my job was pretty easy (just clean up after the plow). i sat and waited and greeted and paid. there was only one difficulty associated with the entire task: convincing the furnace guy that december 2007 was only a year ago and not two. "you should have it cleaned after a year, not two years." the discussion ended in a draw--both of us convinced the other couldn't subtract.

at the end of it all, i could check "furnace" off my list with nearly no effort on my part. i love accomplishing things without doing anything. i get excited every friday when a truck comes and helps me check "garbage" off my list. i need more of this. what ever happened to the milk man?

an old boss of mine told me that when young i would get paid for what i did, and when i got older, i could get paid for what i knew. i guess that when i was young i could sense accomplishment for what i did; now i feel it when i pay someone else to do it. god bless america.

27 January 2009

view from a dying city

a recent import to dowagiac, the irish writer, told me today that he heard dowagiac was a dying city. i googled it immediately and found that "dying city michigan" pulls up flint and places near flint, but not dowagiac. he must be wrong.

google would know if it were true.

but then again it is possible that ours is an insignificant death--a death too small for even the internet to notice.

as an aside, saying flint is dying is as insightful as saying puppies are cute. vultures ate the butt out of that pig a decade ago. the circle of life, hakunamatata, amen.

fifteen years ago, i suspected dowagiac was dead, not dying. they made major renovations to the "historic" downtown. signs point to this attraction (as they do in most smal towns) from the highway through town that everyone uses to avoid such things. they restored the brick buildings and put up imitation street lights so the vacant storefronts would be more attractive to the various stroller girls and other unemployed folk who spend their days on benches.

i was suspicious because one always puts a suit on a corpse before burying it. the fix up was proof of our death.

as always, though, we in small town middle america are slow to catch on. we have to be reminded by outsiders of things as obvious as our own demise. tear down the city limits sign and replace it with a tombstone. we're dead.

26 January 2009

dear god

i've been away for a while visiting the great mountainless mount pleasant, michigan, losing money to the indian casino, and wandering around central michigan's campus. i am back in blogable dowagiac. and so it begins. though i really should write a blog about how much i enjoyed being able to buy sushi at the college library (i didn't, but liked that i could).

instead i will continue my life's work of giving unsolicited advice. i've sent suggestions to everyone. no one answers. this one's for god.

please re-design humans for life in the cold. too many times in the last week, my extremities have come close to falling off. my fingers, nose, and ears in particular have been icicles hanging from the eaves of my face and hands. the only reason they don't fall off is because man in his limited yet useful wisdom has invented the indoors (something you seem to have forgotten, unless i count caves, which really aren't so nice).

i'm pretty sure that if i found the door to work locked, i wouldn't make it back to the car before i lost at least one ear. one very red ear. why it turns red without any warm blood in it is another mystery, but not one i will bother you with, god. i want you to focus on the big picture.

sure, you say, we lose the limbs first so that all the body's resources can be dedicated to the trunk--holder of the vital organs. i say that's old thinking. my fingers are much more vital to me than my protected appendix. how else could i write you this complaint letter.

sure, you say, buy a hat and gloves. i refuse to make up for your shortcomings. i don't own an umbrella either.

design the next human with a streamlined round head--nothing sticking out. cover it with hair or fat to protect it. give us retractable fingers (and toes, while you're at it), so we can suck them in when we're cold and shoot them out when needed. a cat's penis might be a good model.

respectfully cold,


22 January 2009


here are some rumors i've been trying to start for years (or days). feel free to spread them.

Entertainment: Quentin Tarantino has purchased the rights to many classic movies from the 1930s and 40s in order to introduce them to a new generation of viewers. To make them relevant he is re-dubbing them to add currently popular swear words. 380 swears were added to Gone with the Wind. "Frankly, Scarlet, you f***in bitch, I don't m*****f***in give a f***in s**t."

Politics: Magic Johnson once dated Barak Obama's sister.

Health: A recent study from the University of Maryland Medical School found that the health risks of second hand smoke are greatly exaggerated, but third and fourth hand smoke can be potentially life threatening.

Personal (say this happened to you): I was at a party for parents with babies and young children. There was a lot of breast feeding going on--nothing unusual, just kids tucked under little blankets drinking breast milk. All of a sudden, one of the women took off all of her clothes and began breast feeding while completely naked. "This is the natural way," she said.

20 January 2009

guilty basement treasure

i recently re-discovered the original art for a 5-part comic, starllorn (the philosopher), written by john diprete and drawn by gene day. day was just starting to take off as an artist for marvel's star wars when he died in 1982.

i find it a couple times a decade and wonder what i should do with it. i'm always haunted by tinges of old guilt.

i remember getting it around 1977 when i was a crazed teenage comics fan and fanzine publisher. i was putting together hero sandwich #4, which would be my best issue ever. i interviewed george perez over the phone, interviewed my artist hero joe staton in a hotel room in chicago, and got gene day to allow me to serialize starllorn. to get people interested, i had day do a 11 x 17 starllorn poster and hawked them at the chicago comicon and in little unsuccessful ads in the buyers guide.

i was convinced i would be the next great thing in comics. i may have been, but i retired at the age of 15, before publishing the best issue ever.

the reason why i ended up with these unpublished comics is strange. i found myself in the middle of a feud (which may have been completely made up) between chris meth (snotty reviewer--look him up) and bill dale marcinko, publisher of afta, and the only guy i know to actually die in a house fire because the firemen couldn't get to him past the boxes and boxes of crap he collected. bill was pretending to have a brother dale whom he killed. meth was writing everyone and telling them to stay away from this maniac. i defended bill in print. meth sent me a threatening letter on jewish defence league stationary. i paniced. my fan friends stopped writing to me. i gave it all up.

i wrote no one. i gave nothing back. i was 15.

i found out gene day died when i looked him up about ten years ago to return the comics. what to do. i will ask myself that again in 5 or 6 years.

19 January 2009

thoughts on the inauguration

1. mr. computerman, take off this CapsLock key! i really don't understand why this key is so big and so prominently placed. i have used it once in 20 years and mistakenly hit it 40,000 times. i also don't like that every computer i use has the "delete" button placed differently, but the CapsLock is definitely the greatest challenge to freedom i face on a day to day basis.

2. i learned the other day that the chutes cattle walk through on the way to the slaughterhouse are curved so they can't see too far ahead. apparently it cuts down on panic and spares their feelings. it also helps that no cattle ever escape and tell the others what to expect. i hope for a similar end. make my life a curved chute. i don't really want to see my transition to meat before it happens.

3. holidays make me sad because there is no mail. before realizing it was a holiday, i looked outside for footprints in the snow several times and even checked the box on the off possibility that the mailman lept from the sidewalk onto our porch. our mailman is unable to jump over a pencil. but such is my love of getting the mail. i never get anything good, but it's something that comes and can be opened like little presents every day.

4. personal secret (since there seem to be so many on blogs): i tear up when the national anthem is done right.

18 January 2009

losing faith in america from an aisle seat

the binge of movie going is over. sure, i'll go to watchmen in march, but that is obligation, not choice.

the movie, mall cop, was almost as funny as a bad sitcom. i thought about all the money being wasted "in these tough times" to produce the movie and then watch it. making such a movie is like spending a few million dollars on broken phones. we went because we like kevin james. next time he comes out with a movie, we'll just send him ten bucks and skip the torture. we will all benefit.

the real problem is that bad movies bring out bad crowds. it was packed with frenetic packs of preteen bff's and sad american families. the former flitted about, while the latter kicked our seats, ate loudly, came in late, and generally treated the place like the inside of a minivan.

rows of seats in movie theaters are spaced at four-year-old kicking distance. they can never resist. parents are too brain dead and desensitized to the irritation of their children to stop it. instead of saying "stop it" to the kids and "sorry about that" to us, they drown out the world around them with non-stop munching of notoriously loud food packed in equally loud containers. i think the people next to us were pulling firecrackers out of a garbage disposal and lighting them in their mouths.

ironically, the people that made it difficult for me to hear were able to hear well enough to laugh at things so unfunny, no sensible person could be filled with anything but pity for their poor taste.

adult theaters are probably the better option. no kids, no eating, ample spacing between rows, and the sounds made are part of the show.

in the meantime, i am reminded of the bukowski line, which i am too lazy to look up: it's not that i hate people; i'm just happier when they're not around.

16 January 2009

the education pill

on the tv news this morning between long segments explaining that "it's cold," they showed a clip of a recently unemployed trailer factory worker (27 years) who was having difficulty getting his paperwork in order to attend college as part of a state program.

he filed the paperwork (probably late), signed up for classes (probably later), and was told that there may be problems keeping him in classes because the state money hadn't been credited to his account yet. "that's fair," he said sarcastically. the news people were on the scene to investigate this crisis.

the same sense of news that drives young reporters to throw cups of boiling water into the air to show how cold it is (saw it on two different channels this morning), drives their senior colleagues to be shocked that government money is slow and that colleges expect payment for their services. journalism school also teaches them that organizations are always at fault and individuals, especially the "disadvantaged" are never to blame for their own problems.

they missed the story. the real story. the guy was dressed for the trailer factory, had a giant fuzzy camo hat squashed over his mullet, spoke poorly, and mentioned he was going back to school to get a job in "business."

people think that education is doled out like a certificate of brains from the wizard of oz. if one pays and attends, anything is possible. this is simply not true. not everyone is suited for everything. we understand this in sports better than we understand this in education.

there are no brain steroids. education is not a brain transplant. false hope is unethical.

to prove my point, i am determined to go to basketball school tommorrow, and then promptly not get a job with the pistons. worse yet, i will go to barber college (one of my past dreams) and see what damage these shaky hands are horrible eyes can inflict upon america.

p.s. it's cold.

14 January 2009

brotherhood of shovelers and the lazy guy

it's so cold i have to state the obvious. pen-exploding cold. hand-whitening cold.

as an act of kindness, those of us indoors should warm the hands of those coming inside with our arm pits or our butts. "would you like me to sit on your hands?" should be a common greeting in a kind-hearted and caring society. sadly, people may take it the wrong way.

i just came in from my afternoon shoveling. i enjoy making a neat looking driveway. my current neighbor (one of many) in the transient house next door wandered out onto his stoop and looked at me as if he'd never seen a person work. if the world were all mirrors, he wouldn't. "i would have thought you would have a snow blower," he said. i tried to explain how a shovel is all a person needs. he looked confused. in seven years, i have never seen a person in that house shovel. they prefer getting stuck or sliding into my fence.

meanwhile, i watch others around the neighborhood, shovels in hand. one woman shovels slowly, for hours, whittling away at the sidewalk as if she's carefully sculpting a statue of a fallen hero on a horse. she rakes in much the same way--like she doesn't want to wake the grass.

the retired school janitor across the street shovels so much, uglywife says he shovels his lawn. he doesn't shovel a path to anything; he rearranges snow. he does so because every so often a neighbor will arrive home, or someone will walk by, or someone like me will be shoveling within earshot. it is his social life. work has always provided him with conversation and a sense of belonging.

shovel and you belong. blow snow and you keep a noisy distance. stay inside and you become unaware a society even exists.

it's cold and i have no one to sit on my hands.

12 January 2009

fear the 80 year old man

we're not movie people. lately, though, we've been on a streak of movie watching. movie theater watching, i mean. yesterday, i finally saw a movie that was worth the exposure to winter germs. it captured my attention so much, i forgot i had to go to the bathroom. gran torino.

dirty old harry. it is very funny, truly sad, and thought provoking. i've never seen uglywife cry without an animal being involved. she cried. don't tell her i mentioned that.

it is difficult for me to resist talking about favorite lines and scenes. i don't want to be a spoiler. let's just say that it speaks to the timeless verities and exemplifies the best of the human spirit--with funny lines, big guns, and a cool car.

i haven't recommended a movie since 1978. i'll wait a week, expect you've seen it, and talk about particulars.

09 January 2009


it used to be storms. the dog would shiver and whine and refuse to go outside, meaning, refuse to go to the bathroom. that is fairly common.

the condition hasn't changed, but the definition of storm has. drizzle is a storm. a mild breeze is a storm. if we ever had two days in a row of pleasant weather--75 degrees, 5 mph winds--the dog's bladder would explode. we are fortunate to live in michigan.

inside "storms" used to be the vacuum. again, typical. now the storms include anything which might beep. cooking used to set off the smoke alarms on occasion. the beep from the smoke alarm would make the dog act as if the sound had grown burrs and entered her urethra. i disconnected the alarms, choosing possible death over the dog's panic attacks.

since the fan was turned on when cooking got a little smokey, the fan puts the dog in panic mode. association. damn that pavlov. if the fan is turned on, the dog demands to be let out to bury herself in imaginary dens.

our new oven gives a pleasant "ding" when the cooking is done. needless to say, if anyone turns on the oven, the dog begins shivering like she is being sent to the firing line, anticipating a possible ding.

i imagine the dog police coming and asking why i beat my dog. "i don't beat it. i simply turned on the oven to make some biscuits." they arrest me anyway. in the dog world, the definition of abuse is expanding at a rate even faster than in the human world.

the nervous disorders are endless. the sight of bugs makes her drool. blood will make her vomit. oddly, she's fine with vomit.

the doctor offers helpful advice. "it'll get worse." then with a chuckle, he hands me the bill.

latest unemployment numbers

i often say (though never on this blog until now) that i still do not see signs of an unemployment problem in my part of america. sure, everything around me is shut down, and i encounter many "displaced workers" (students), and statistically the rate for this little part of michigan is amongst the nation's highest.

still, i'm convinced we have an overemployment problem.

  • i call a company to find out where my cat food is. the person says his records show it wasn't sent because i need a prescription for it. he looks again. "but that's not correct. you don't need a prescription. i'll change that." then he informs me the shipping is wrong and that he'll have to add eight dollars to my order which hasn't been shipped in three weeks. i speak to a supervisor. "you need a prescription," he says. overemployment.
  • i go to lowe's to find a shelf. i wander. i look for someone to help. they scatter from me. they group together to chat about something and block me out. they linger by the bathroom. overemployment.
that's this week. the examples are abundant. a good percentage of people who have jobs shouldn't. i'm guessing that many of those who don't have jobs should. fire 20 percent of the current work force; hire the 7 percent currently looking for work; everyone wins.

05 January 2009

birds v. gunslingers

in little more than a week's time, uglywife and i have watched ten hours of documentaries on birds and ten hours of documentaries on famous gun fighters of the old west. don't ask.

after this fairly thorough indoctrination into the lives of both, i can say without hesitation that i would feel much more comfortable living closely with desperadoes. the man killers of the west generally lived by a code of some sort. their body counts are usually exaggerated. most were readers.

birds, however, are vicious. we watched birds kill birds. we watched birds knock other birds eggs off branches to get a sip, leaving the rest for the ants. we watched birds wait for birds to leave their nest so they could kill babies. we watched ducks torture and starve their own babies so that they could have the two they want rather than the five that were born.

don't let the birds take over. they will not govern well. when you're not looking they will steal your children. wyatt earp will shoot you if you draw on him; a bird will crap on you just to laugh.

i'm emptying the feeders outside, throwing out the seed, and filling them with whiskey. better cowboys hanging out in the backyard than the current crop of sky killers.

01 January 2009

confused by public urinals

there are so many things i don't understand about other humans, that i doubt sometimes i am human at all. the other day i used a urinal at white castle. it was a normal public urinal, which means dirty. dried and drying urine on the rim i can understand, though it really is a large target. the amount of public hairs stuck all over the rim, though, is perplexing.

what do people do to unleash so many pubes while peeing? do they rustle it about? do they pluck and preen to pass time while peeing? are the access slits in their underwear too tight? is the average person that hairy? is this a territory marking i'm unfamiliar with?

as i say, i'm confused. there must have been forty or so pubic artifacts on the urinal at white castle. there was sufficient variety in shape and color to suggest a recurring problem rather than a single shooter. am i the only non-shedder? what am i doing wrong?

stranger in paradise

i'm not a very good relaxer. i find pleasure in doing things. still, we decided to spend a few days over the holiday in a romantic, relaxation, paradise. it was better than advertised.

the place: sybaris.

the room (really a stand-alone condo): giant bed upstairs, with a food preparing area, his and hers sinks, giant shower, hot tub, stereo system, fireplace, and massage chair. a slide (or stairs for me, perpetually scared of slides) shoots one down to the 92 degree pool, attached hot tub, and giant steam room. we also got our own heated garage.

the experience: it became strange living without outside light, and really strange living without the internet, and i still found enjoyment in keeping things tidy or reading, but--for the most part, it was truly relaxing. we had an amazing amount of time to play in the water without anything important to do. though the place is in the middle of suburbia and close to busy highways, it seemed a million miles away from civilization. it's nice to leave civilization every so often.

the recommendation: go.

and now: i can get back to blogging about dowagiac, drunks, and stupid ideas.