Monday, October 31, 2011

Cruise Control - Part 2: Darkness and Rubber Tires

  Well, now.

  We’re less than two hours into our journey, and my mind is boggled already. Seriously, so much has happened in the few minutes since we left the house that I’m beginning to wonder if I’ve slipped into an alternate reality. One where I eventually end up in a padded room, mind-snapped, and refusing to ever go outside again, speak to another human being, or wear flannel.

  But I’m getting a bit ahead of myself. Let’s start where things should start, shall we?

  Someone in the family, not really sure who to blame at this point, came up with the brilliant idea that we should go on a cruise in the Caribbean. Wouldn’t that be swell? Why, sure it would, we all agreed in that offhand way you have when you think something will never come to fruition but it’s fun to talk about it. Then we probably ordered another round of drinks and most of us assumed that was that.

  Nearly a year later, after much hemming and hawing and trying to figure out when we could all take vacation at the same time (an agonizing process that could easily kill weaker souls), we are actually getting on a boat in Galveston in a few hours. I will be cruising the wide open seas with 14 members of my family.

  Fourteen. That is not a typo. It might be an ill-advised decision, and possibly criminal in some states, but it is not a typo. I will be trapped on a boat with lots of relatives, all of us slammed together, with no ability to simply get in a car and go back home when they all inevitably get on my nerves. I assure you that my anxiety medication has been fully refilled, and I have a secret backup plan to simply slip away at one of the ports of call and never be heard from again. I’m thinking my new name will be Reynaldo. I like the sound of it.

  So this was the initial plan: The biggest chunk of the family lives in or around Tulsa. They were going to caravan it to Dallas (where I live, far enough away from Tulsa to satisfy court orders resulting from previous incidents that might be discussed at a later time), spend the night, and then we would add our car to the train and everybody would motor south, Galveston bound, where our ship lay waiting, rocking gently in a harbor that doesn’t understand what is heading its way. The ignorance before the storm.

  And that plan was fine and dandy, up to a point. The Tulsa contingent arrived in Dallas at the designated hour of 3pm yesterday, plenty enough time that we could all chit chat a bit, catch up on things, and enjoy a nice dinner before attempting to get in bed early so we could leave at the butt crack of dawn in the morning. Actually, we were planning to leave even before that. (Is there a equally-rude term for even earlier than BCOD? Pre-Crack of Dawn? Dark Crevice of the Dying Night? The Gray Valley of Indecision and Poor Choices?)

  Anyway, we were leaving at 5 in the morning. Leaving at 5, not merely getting up at that time and starting to load the car. A whole hyena pack of people, youngsters included, were expected to be tucked securely in the line of cars and happily motoring down the highway, smiles on our faces about our punctuality and the upcoming possibility of singing traveling tunes. Shouldn’t be a problem at all, right?

  And it wasn’t. Everybody was up and ready at the appointed time. So I knew right away that something was amiss in the cosmos.

  Sure, it wasn’t an easy task, getting up and marching out the door. We had people lined up at the coffee maker, grunting from sleep-deprivation, circling one another like wolves waiting for someone to do something irritating so the rest of us could pounce and rip a body to shreds. But things remained relatively civil, and we stayed on schedule. At least in our house. We had no idea what was going on at the hotel.

  Oh, did I mention the hotel? Yep, we had to arrange for two rooms at a nearby Hilton Gardens. There were just too many people in our circus of the damned. I suppose we could have sardined it at mi casa for one night, but the potential fallout from such a situation was more than any of us were psychologically healthy enough to deal with.

  I’m sure that things were interesting over at said paid accommodations, what with Mom and Launa being in charge of FOUR energetic folks between the ages of 9 and 16. Personally, I would never sign up for such a tour of duty. I know my limitations and my skill set. Some people were born to nurture. You will not find my picture in that brochure.

  Anyway, the possibility of a scheduling hiccup was rather high at this hotel, with me prepared for something awkward and unplanned to take place that would result in us leaving for Galveston two days late. I lay awake last night fully expecting to hear sirens and news helicopters heading toward the hotel, followed by a knock on my door with the FBI having a few questions for me.

  Amazingly, we were still in the driveway at the house when a call came in. The gang at the hotel was not only already up but they were currently parked at a nearby convenience store, gassing up for the drive and anxiously awaiting the start of our adventure. We were still completely on schedule. Wow. Things were working out really well, and the dawn (when it finally broke) would be ushering in a splendid and carefree day.

  My satisfaction with the world lasted roughly twenty minutes.

  This was long enough for us to get on the interstate and get out of Dallas proper. Then another call comes in from one of the train cars. We have a sick occupant, need to stop at a CVS or Walgreens as soon as possible. (Some “personal plumbing issue” with one of the young ladies, one of those mysterious things that I know nothing about and that’s the way I would like to keep it.) Thanks and carry on.

  Okay, that might be a tiny bit of a problem. For those of you who haven’t had the joy of traveling by car from Dallas to Houston, here’s a news flash: Once you leave Dallas on I-45, ain’t nuthin’ much up in that grill. We abruptly go from exciting metroplex to cows and tumbleweeds. Not a whole lot of all-night pharmacies out this way. Nope.

  But we kept our eyes open, carefully studying our surroundings in case a strip mall suddenly appeared amid the abandoned rusty pickups, hunting lodges and bait shacks. Wireless phones were whipped out and fingers tapped away, trying to get a GPS-fix on where we might be and where we might find-

  THUMP. Bam. Bam. Bam. BAM.

  We had just run over something. Something that was not happy about being run over and had tried to fight back. I had been staring at my phone as it struggled to find a decent signal, so I had no clue what might have rudely decided to be in our path right at this particular moment.

  I calmly directed a query at our main pilot, Terry. “What the hell was THAT?”

  “A tire. We were on it before I could see it.”

  “I didn’t see it, either,” proclaimed our co-pilot, Tiffany, with what felt like a little unnecessary enthusiasm. (Translation: I wasn’t really paying any attention, so the fact that I didn’t see it, either, should surprise no one. Of course, if someone had actually said to me, hey, watch for giant pieces of molded rubber in the middle of the road, I would have been on it. But no one did. So I wasn’t.)

  A tire? It had felt like a barn. But the car was still rolling along, no indicator lights on the dash demanding attention with universal symbols for mechanical dissatisfaction, so maybe it hadn’t been that bad. It probably had been just enough to startle me out of the droopy, post-coffee slumber I had been contemplating before we encountered things where they shouldn’t be. We drove for a bit more.

  Then I noticed an odd noise, coming from the left side of the car.

  Tara, my companion in the back seat, noticed me noticing. “Can you hear that?”

  Me: “Uh, yeah. Not sure what that is.”

  Tara: “It sounds like flapping, maybe. Is that normal?”

  Me: “Thanks for asking. And no, that’s not normal.” When purchasing this vehicle, I specifically asked for non-flapping accessories.

  We tried alerting the pilots. They did not seem initially concerned, instead choosing to focus on discussing their mutual pleasure for a song currently playing on the radio.

  Then the flapping became louder, more insistent.

  Tara: “The flapping is louder.”

  No response from the flight deck.


  The pilots continued with their not caring.

  The flapping grew impatient with the lack of full-occupant attention, and it ramped up with the flapping. Was there a seagull stuck to the side of the car? Were we dragging something? Were Tara and I both having a hallucinogenic reaction to the possibly un-fresh creamer that we had boldly used in our coffee this morning?

  Now the pilots decided that something might be amiss, after all. (Perhaps because the noise filling the car now sounded like a cargo plane landing on a mile-long stretch of speed bumps.) Luckily, we were just coming up on an island of light in the otherwise darkness, a lone outpost of a convenience store. We exited the highway and pulled into the parking lot.

  Terry hopped out and began to investigate under the car. Darrin hopped out and began to investigate under his car. Crispy hopped and investigated his. Great. Apparently everybody got a whack at the giant pinata tire with their vehicles. Well, at least we got the group plan, and nobody can say they didn’t get a chance to participate in the fun.

  Everybody else hopped out, because it seemed like the hip thing to do at the time.

  Status report? Darrin and Crispy didn’t seem to find anything unruly with their undersides. Our car?  Not so good. There’s something hanging down, a box-like thing with tubes and such. (I’m sure somebody more in the know could take one look and go “hey, your whackjammer is busted!”, but I had no idea.) It seems the flapping had really been a dragging, but still very real and not the product of dairy-based auditory visions.

  Terry goes running into the convenience store to see if there’s something that can help fix the issue. (Like a mechanic? Do they sell those here?) I go running into the store to use the bathroom, because this is quickly becoming far too much excitement and I need a release in some form. I do my thing, then saunter back out into the store proper.

  Mom goes running past me, followed by Baylor, who is asking “Grandma, are you okay?” They disappear toward the bathrooms, ignoring me and my quizzical look.

  Oh? I go outside and wander up to one patch of family, while another group of them is wallering around on the ground and trying to fix whatever under the car. “Is something wrong with Mom?” I query the group just standing there and not really doing anything.

  I get several blank stares, unconcerned flicks of ashes from two cigarettes, and a startling head butt in the stomach from one niece who is only nine and still considers this activity to be a form of affection. Okay, this peanut gallery is not ready for harvesting.

    The door of the store suddenly bursts open. “Grandma threw up all over the bathroom floor!” echoes across the parking lot, startling a nearby cow. (No idea, it was just there.) This is quickly followed by a distant shout from the folks poking around under the potentially disabled car, a garbled grunt that seems to indicate the discovery of something very-not-good in the belly of the battered beast.

  Then it spins completely out of control, with far too many things happening at once for a sleep-craving mind to adequately inventory and process. People are running and things are hanging and relatives are spewing and we’re in the middle of nowhere and its very possible that we may suddenly not have enough vehicles to get us from wherever the hell we are to somewhere more useful. Like Galveston. Where we have to be on the ship in roughly eight hours.

  I am less than enthused. The cow moos in agreement.

Click Here to Read the Next Entry in This Series…

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Cruise Control - Part 1: Meet The Gawkers

Howdy, folks.

Well, we up and went on another family trip, because we clearly haven’t learned our lesson yet and keep banging on the door to disaster. This particular adventure involved a big boat, extensive amounts of water, and the availability of copious amounts of alcohol, so of course things developed that shouldn’t have, and of course I had to start blogging about it the very second we walked back into the house. Things just seem to happen to our family. We’re definitely followed by angels. I just haven’t figured out if they’re good angels or the bad kind that got kicked out of heaven for letting boys sneak into the Celestial Dormitory after midnight.

Anyway, after completing the first two (unpublished at this point) posts, I realized that the cast of characters was a bit extreme, and perhaps it would help things a bit if I provided a wee smidge of background on those 15 personalities, complete with actual photos from the trip and short biographies that are totally and completely true. And here we go. (Oh, and everyone under legal age has been given a fake moniker, to protect their identity and allow them to destroy their own reputations later in life. This explains some of the odd names, and not the possibility that we all grew up on a commune where people named their children Bean Sprout and Roach Clip.)

1. Me

And this is from one of the better days on the cruise, although I’m still a little blue in this shot because I’ve just learned that the opening of the Sausage and Grease buffet line has been delayed after a misunderstanding about where to put the mustard sauce. But at least I still have my cute little hat. Things are always better with hats.

2. Terry

My partner. (His face is a little dirty because he just wouldn’t listen when we told him he really shouldn’t look into the smokestack on the ship.) We’ve been together for 11 years. Come to think of it, that might explain why he was so invested in shoving his head into a deadly space.

3. Tiffany

My bestie. She actually selected this picture herself, because I know better than to ever post a picture of her without review and approval. She often goes on family trips with us, partially because she’s loads of fun, but mainly because she requires a lot of supervision, and she can’t be left on her own for more than a few days or the police become involved.

4. Dawn

One of my sisters. She’s the kind of woman that can roll out of bed, belch, then shake her hair slightly and look stunningly gorgeous the rest of the day without any effort. So of course we have to hate her a tiny little bit and talk about her behind her back, because that’s what good families do when they can’t afford therapy.

5. Darrin

Dawn’s husband. He actually spoke once, in 1994, (I believe the phrases were “I do,” to Dawn, and “Is there any beer left?”, to anyone who would listen.) He hasn’t said much since, but don’t let the silence fool you. Once he gets going you better hide the good china.

6. Tara

Dawn and Darrin’s daughter. Tara is a modest, reserved woman who rarely has anything to say. She likes to wear frilly dresses and do needlepoint. She never drinks or smokes, instead choosing to spend her time working in homeless shelters and attending Bible study. She always has a kind word for everyone she meets, never once thinking of saying anything rude or sarcastic. Except for the first sentence, this entire paragraph has been a complete lie.

7. Tristany

Another item in the Dawn and Darrin product line, Tristany is an energetic 9-year-old who will happily share with you every single detail of every single thing that has ever happened in her entire life. When she grows up, we’re all assuming that she will be either an auctioneer or the person who says all that legal stuff really fast at the end of a commercial.

8. Mom

Mom, as is the case with most Moms, is the one that makes us all get along even when we really don’t care to be speaking to one another. And yes, we made her hair look like that because of the naughty things we did while growing up. But I’m not taking responsibility for the outfit, she did that on her own.

9. Roni

Okay, my sister Roni really can’t do this anymore, after the stroke and the wheelchair business, but this is what’s going on in her head. She’s a very determined woman, and will run you down with that wheelchair if you even look like you might get in her way. (Under no circumstances should you ever deny her a Diet Dr. Pepper if she requests one. Write that down.)

10. Karen

My sister Karen is a hoot, but she may not be thrilled with this revelation: As a youngster, she wanted to be Cher. She and Dawn would give concerts in front of the fireplace, using those really long matchsticks as slender microphones. Being a budding young gay thing, I wanted to join them so we could be The Supremes. This was clearly unacceptable, and I was usually booted out of the room. Then they would swoon over a Shaun Cassidy album cover and fight about who was going to marry him. Good times.

11. Janet

Aunt Janet is definitely a free spirit, and she is not afraid to tell you exactly how it is and where you need to stick things. This is a great attribute. Actually, she and Karen have very similar personalities. Both of them can march into a room and take control, getting things done and making the annoying people find something else to do. I, on the other hand, shuffle into a room reluctantly, instantly decide that I don’t care for most of the people, and then proceed to do absolutely nothing about it. Except drink.

12. Launa

A friend of the family. She’s a little tense, because she agreed to come along on the trip and keep an eye on Roni’s children. I have no idea what she might have been drinking at the time of the agreement, but it must have been very liberating.

13. Crispy

My nephew, Roni’s son. He’s 16, which means he knows absolutely everything he will ever need to know for the rest of his life. Just ask him.

14. Baylor

My niece, Roni’s daughter. Baylor has plans to completely run the world some day, but she’s content to wait for people to figure out that this is really going to happen so they better start treating her right. In the meanwhile, she’s biding her time trying to figure out why boys can be so stupid.

15. Bacon

Another niece, Roni’s daughter. Bacon has never had a bad day in her entire life. Some unpleasant things have happened, yes, but she chooses to just ignore them and continue singing, dancing and wearing saucy outfits. And laughing. She laughs a lot. One day we may discover that she just has chronic gas, but for now we’ll just let her chuckle away because it keeps her occupied.

And there you have it, the whole cast and crew. It’s not really important that you take notes or anything, and there most likely will not be a pop quiz, but I thought this might help you navigate through the deluge of blog posts that are about to come tumbling out of my head. Too many twisted things happened during the cruise for me to simply keep my mouth shut, and it would be negligent of me not to tell the tale. Besides, have I ever passed up an opportunity to make fun of everything around me? Of course not.

Ready? Let’s go.

Click Here to Read the Next Entry in This Series…

Friday, October 28, 2011

A Field Guide For Identifying and Classifying Republicans in Their Native Habitat

Thank you for selecting Lefty Blue’s Animal Tours as an entertainment destination. We are quite certain that you will enjoy your time with us as we explore the darkest corners of uncivilized society. For today’s adventure, we will be visiting both the Soulless Bushlands and the Lower Regions of Moralitavia. Hope you brought your camera!

However, before we climb into the eco-friendly bus that absolutely terrifies the Republicans, there are a few legal matters which we must address. It’s a bit boring and dreary, I’m afraid, but our lawyers make us do this after that horrible incident last month in Texas when a tourist stupidly dangled a microphone in front of a Feathered Perry and it went on a rampage of mendacity and disillusion.

As many wildlife experts will confirm, in order to survive encounters with the Republican species, it is critical that you fully understand the mating habits, hunting patterns and general mental instability of creatures without a moral compass. Once you can identify the following distinctive traits of a Republican, and learn how to react accordingly, your journey with us will be a safe, harmonious, and progressive experience.

1. Republicans have limited olfactory senses.

For example, they cannot detect the aromas of truth, honesty and documented facts. They will wander right past the trees of knowledge and not even realize they are in a forest.

Recommended reaction: Do not try to lure and catch Republicans using truth as bait. They won’t know what it is or what to do with it.

2. Republicans exhibit a great talent for mimicry.

Like other brightly-colored birds that do little more than make a lot of noise and leave droppings, Republicans will endlessly repeat the words and phrases taught to them by other Republicans. Additionally, they all tend to groom themselves in the same manner, wear the same expensive but boring clothing, and watch the same faux news programs.

Recommended reaction: You only need to talk to one Republican, one time, and you will know everything that they all think they know.

3. Republicans have a natural predatory instinct for other people’s money.

Republicans become greatly agitated when other species obtain money via legitimate endeavors such as gainful employment or the distribution of social welfare allotments. Once provoked and enraged by the mystifyingly offensive sight of people being rewarded for good behavior, the Republican will endlessly strive to divert the revenue streams of others into their own fouled nest.

Recommended reaction: Never allow a Republican to come within 500 feet of your piggy bank, retirement account, or branch of Congress.

4. Republicans have an inherent flight instinct when it comes to socialism.

Despite not really understanding what it is or how it works, a Republican will go to extraordinary lengths to avoid anything which they have identified as socialist. However, recent anthropological studies have shown that Republicans are just fine with socialism as long as they are the intended recipient of goods and services and not anyone else. Therefore, a better definition of socialism from the Republican perspective is “anything that wasn’t my idea or doesn’t make me money”.

Recommended reaction: If you come across an agitated, socially-confused Republican on a stretch of jungle path, turn and go another way. You certainly don’t want to go anywhere they’ve just come from, as anything of value in that direction has already been stolen or defiled.

5. Republicans have an interesting manner of breeding.

Republicans are almost rabidly interested in the fertilized egg of females that are not their own, going to great lengths to sustain the embryo and give it voting rights in Presidential elections, even if the affected female has other plans. However, once the child is actually born, a Republican wants nothing to do with the nourishment, education and cultural-enhancement of the little tyke, leaving it to make its own way in a world it did not create.

Recommended reaction: Ensure that wiser people are appointed to tribal council so that the Republican can only speak for his own body.

6. Republicans have a curious mythology as the basis of their religion.

Scientists have reported that, although the Republican religion shares certain key phrases with some other faith-based practices found in the animal kingdom, such as “Bible” and “Jesus” and “tax exempt”, these phrases have a completely different connotation in the Republican ideology, often contradicting absolutely with the precepts of other religions. In fact, the most recent study found that the seal on their Bibles had not even been broken, thus indicating that the tomes are used merely as pageantry props and not as educational materials.

Recommended reaction: Isolate and quarantine the affected Republicans until a proper vaccine has been developed and authorized. This may take some time, especially since we don’t know where the hell those people got their ideas.

7. Republicans often have split personalities.

This results in Republicans who pass anti-gay legislation and then head to the leather bars wearing nothing but chaps and a lecherous grin, Republicans who rail about the sanctity of marriage and then fornicate with anything that moves, and Republicans who get rapturous about the need for a strong military but won’t spend a penny to make sure the enlisted men and women are comfortable and protected while deployed or able to make a living when they come back home.

Recommended reaction: As mentioned, don’t allow Republicans to run for tribal council. Instead, have them perform on Broadway. They’re very good at make-believe and singing pretty songs that don’t really mean anything.

8. Republicans suffer from the most acute instances of memory loss ever observed in any species on the planet.

This topic-specific mental degeneration strangely seems to cycle along with presidential elections, with Republicans accusing non-Republicans of performing acts that past Republicans have also done, blaming non-Republicans for something they didn’t do but that Republicans are responsible for, and completely forgetting that we live in an age of video cameras capturing Republicans saying something they claim they never said.

Recommended reaction: If a Republican is speaking, change the channel. He’ll deny whatever he’s saying in a few days anyway, so why bother listening.

9. Republicans have a very strong drive to get at the top of the pecking order.

They will do anything to win. Anything. Even if it means millions of people lose their jobs, millions can’t get a decent education, and millions suffer from legislated poverty. This is why the other animals run away when the Republicans come to drink at the watering hole on the game preserve. Who wants to share anything that’s been tongued by that?

Recommended reaction: Don’t vote for them. Ever.

10. Republicans are on the Endangered Species List.

The glory of it all is that society always, eventually, moves forward. The Republicans have degenerated into a writhing, biting, swamp of inhumanity that has no morals and serves no purpose other than the growth and retention of obscene, ill-got wealth. Natural selection, the will of the common people, and human decency will prevail at some point, the cancer will eat itself, and history will look back at this current time as a moment when certain people coalesced into a monster of greed that was finally slain, forced back into the primordial ooze that Republicans swear never even existed.

Recommended reaction: Smile. It will happen. Stay strong.


Friday, October 14, 2011

10 Life Lessons From The Latest “Survivor” Episode

1. You can lose a tooth chewing on the carcass of a roasted pig.

Gotta say, this was one of the most startling challenges I’ve ever seen on the show. People with their hands tied behind their backs, using their mouths to rip meat off a defenseless creature and then racing to spit their treasures in a basket. Very surreal. I briefly thought I was at the Republican National Convention. Speaking of…

2. The three-second rule is apparently a universal understanding.

In that same pig-violating competition, Mikayla actually squatted down and mouth-snatched up a chunk of oink-meat that one of her teammates had dropped, throwing the recycled gristle into said basket, a dexterous move that probably propelled her team to the win, since they only won by two ounces. Mikayla, therefore, officially rocks, despite the constant slandering from a certain crazy man with some serious issues. Speaking of…

3. A Hantz is a Hantz is a Psychotic Land Mine.

Dear Brandon. You wanted to come on the show and restore respect to the family name after your uncle inspired a national disgust with all things Russell? Interesting. Yet you’re acting just like him, with lies and self-delusions and making crap up about other people because they are prettier than you and you secretly want them. And P.S.: Jesus is not on your side, mostly because you clearly haven’t read His Book. So stop pointing at the sky in a shameless plug for spiritual gratitude. If you’re lucky, that gesture might get you a taxi in New York City, but that’s about it. Speaking of…

4. The South Pacific is apparently the new place where everybody knows your name.

It seems that Coach’s real name is “Benjamin”, but he goes off the deep end if anybody dares to whisper said moniker in his presence. Benjamin? Dude, that is SO not worthy of a dragon-slayer, even though you’ve never actually slayed a dragon or, you know, won the game, so I can understand why you made up a name for yourself that is shorter, more authoritarian, and fancier-sounding. But still, no need for you and your faux rock-star hair to get all bent out of shape just because a certain person insists on calling you that. Speaking of…

5. People named Stacey don’t always…. stay.

Isn’t it ironic? Anyway, severe-eyed girl is all ate up with the bitterness, rudely calling people by their actual name and such, and spouting off on Redemption Island that all her former tribe members are liars and back-stabbers. (Honey, have you not watched the show before?) Just a suggestion, even though you are never going to be returning for an All-Stars show: Maybe you should think a second or two before engaging the speaking clutch. That short-circuiting mess of a speech, accompanied by unexplained facial spasms, that you made just before Christine trumped your butt on Redemption Island made people even more scared of you. Speaking of…

6. A billowing, printed blouse is perhaps not the recommended Survivor couture.

Christine, you clearly made a judgmental error with that Long Island-tribute frock. Did you really think it was wise to be thrown on a deserted island wearing something that Edie Falco would sport during a lost episode of The Sopranos? It’s hard to take you seriously when you come marching out in that thing, especially when accented by the grey tube socks. (And just where the hell did you find those?) But hey, so far you’ve been smacking down the challengers on Redemption, and I always like it when an underdog prevails. Speaking of…

7. Geeky people can be annoyingly persistent.

Dear John Cochran. Am I reading your bio correctly? You’re twenty-four? Could have fooled me. I keep expecting a daycare attendant to wander out of the jungle and burp you. Yes, you get a few hesitant points for being a super-fan of the show and all, but you don’t seem to be applying your knowledge in a helpful way. (Stop asking people if they want you to whack on a coconut. They’ll let you know, mmmkay?) Sometimes it’s just hard for folks to not judge a book by a cover, especially when your limited edition is so… special. Speaking of…

8. Apparently being on a pot farm can make you have really white teeth.

Okay, Jim is actually a “medical marijuana distributor”, so he may not actually be doing the plowing and hoeing, but you can see still his molars from Saturn and something is causing that. There’s something a little uncertain with this guy, can’t quite put my finger on it. Maybe it’s my gaydar going off even though he puts on a show of ogling the women. Maybe it’s the fact that he seems overly happy about mundane things like palm fronds. Or maybe it’s just those damn teeth. Speaking of…

9. Mormons can surprise you in many ways.

Dawn apparently went after that opening-act pig with enough gusto that she broke a tooth in half. That’s either very impressive or a statement about the quality of the water supply in Utah. And hey, she managed to win that competition where people had to stand around and hold heavy stuff on their shoulders for a long time while squatting in a very unfeminine way. Granted, she also managed to have a complete mental breakdown roughly two minutes in to the season, when most people were still learning each other’s names and trying to figure out how to wear a buff in the most sexually-alluring manner. But still, she’s done just fine on a show where they tend to knock off the older people really fast. Speaking of…

10. Half the population of Utah is apparently on this show.

We also have Rick, the rancher who listed his first hobby as “team sorting”. That’s a hobby? Wow. Other than that, and the fact that he’s 51, making him the oldest of this season’s crop (despite the fact that Coach’s body looks older), we really don’t know much about him. We usually only see him and his mustache for roughly three seconds on every episode. He’s on the down-low, his name never coming up for eviction, lurking quietly. Maybe it’s because he has that look where he might kill you in your sleep with a cattle-prod if you piss him off. Just sayin. Time will tell. Speaking of…

I’m out of it. Here’s a quick run-through of the other cast members: Ozzy - Dude, you seem to be laying back and just expecting to win like Rob did last season. Difference? Rob was strategizing and not swinging in a hammock. Albert - Your brightness wattage is a bit dim, but you can remain shirt-free all you want. Edna - Clingy much? Elyse - Guess that belly-button jewelry didn’t really get you what you thought it would, huh?

Keith - Every time I see you I’m distracted by the navigational tattoo in an odd place. Can’t get past that. Mark - The telling people one thing in private and then slamming them in tribal? Didn’t really work out, did it? Semhar - You did the spoken-word poetry and then got sent home. Something tells me you’re used to this kind of reaction. Sophie - There’s some strength here that we haven’t seen. Show it. And finally, Whitney - Dark horse that might just stumble into Final Tribal. My thoughts right now, might change tomorrow. Depends on what I order at Starbucks and how it pleases me.

That’s all I’ve got for you, head back to camp.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

10 New Phrases That You Should Add To Your Vocabulary Immediately

1. Frigi-Daze

The concept of opening the refrigerator and staring forlornly at the contents, unable to make a decision about what it is that you want to shove into your mouth. You know you want something, voices are speaking to you, calling your name, but the language is unclear and not very helpful. You stare at the sadly unchanging stuff-I-don’t-want until your eyes crust over.

Example Usage: “I was in a frigi-daze and then somethin’ started beepin’ and Momma smacked me on the head.”

2. Bill-Rot

The condition that occurs when the stack of unpaid bills on your desk actually start to disintegrate from lack of attention, with some requests for payment hanging around so long that you give them pet names. Side effects include cut-off notices, rude automated phone calls from people in India, and snooty waiters waltzing back to your table and demanding another form of payment in a very loud voice.

Example Usage: “I got me so much bill-rot right now that the city sent out an inspector. Guess I won’t be goin’ to the tractor pull over to Sludgeville.”

3. Splooge-Hop

The erratic and awkward dance step one performs when sashaying down the hallway in the middle of the night and suddenly stomping on a cat’s hairball in your bare feet. Possible screaming and general repulsion ensues.

Example Usage: “I just wanted me another quick bite of Sally Mae’s potato chip casserole, and next thing you know I’m splooge-hoppin’ for Jesus. Whacked my head on the wall, I did. Damn cat just sat there and looked at me.”

4. Beer-Muda Triangle

The mysterious and unexplained disappearance of beers that should have still been in the refrigerator, despite careful planning and published regulatory procedures. Side effects include harsh accusations, abrupt changes in evening agendas, and spontaneous weeping.

Example Usage: “I still had me a good two hours left of the Shark Week marathon when I opened the fridge and every dang beer done got sucked up in the Beer-Muda Triangle. Now, I know I paced myself just right, wasn’t my doin’, so I’m blamin’ that simple cousin that Verlene brought over ‘cause she’s doin’ some Christian thing with the church. Why she gotta do the Lord’s work in my house?”

5. Gastrocity

The unfortunate condition of experiencing militant gas bubbles at very inopportune times. Side effects include the sudden need to walk very slowly despite being late for the subway, the reluctance to join any nearby limbo contests regardless of the rabid encouragement of your drinking buddies, and the realization that hitting a speed bump while in a car with your boss could totally change your career.

Example Usage: “Lula Belle, I could not believe it, we were at the funeral and just tryin’ to get Aunt Cornpone in the ground and be done with it, but right when Pastor Buckshot handed me a clod of dirt to chuck at Cornie’s casket, the gastrocity hit me like I just had a bowl of chili at Buford’s Grunt and Run Diner.”

6. Roll-Clanker

The odd, unidentified items that are rolling around in your car, making you wonder what in the hell that might be, but not causing you enough consternation to actually do something about it, because you have places to be and buffets to eat.

Example Usage: “All I was doin’ was headin’ to the Piggly Wiggly, ‘cause they had them a sale on turnip greens, when all the sudden some roll-clanker got caught up under my brake pedal and I couldn’t stop and next thing I know I’m crashin’ through the front window of the Dairy Queen. Ended up with soft-serve ice cream in my hair, and you know how much money I just spent at the Snip and Twirl so I could look like Reese Witherspoon. Made me right mad.”

7. Crow-Bar Action

A down-low term referring to a man or a woman who pursues intimate relations with someone who hasn’t been taken for a test drive in quite some time.

Example Usage: “I swear, I don’t know what’s got into Billy Ray Junior, runnin’ off and doin’ the crow-bar action with those dried-out sisters at Our Lady of Cobwebs church. Ain’t right.”

8. Cell-You-Loss

The slightly-manipulated situation wherein you receive a call on your cell phone, grimace at the name, don’t care to answer it, and “accidentally” hit ignore or even delete the evidence of the communication attempt.

Example Usage: “What’s that, Beatrice? You tried to call me last night so I could come over for the Daughters of Pentecostal Power Potluck? Well, shoot, sorry I missed that. Must have been cell-you-loss buildup. Yes, that’s a real thing, Bea. Why would I make that up? Sounds like you need to get to a doctor and have that sucked out right away. Let me put you on hold while I get the number.” Click.

9. Post-Nightal Drip

A catch-all term that applies to anything you post on social media after you should have stopped drinking and gone to bed.

Example Usage: “What’s that, Clarabelle? You didn’t care for me saying you could suck the chrome off a trailer hitch? Oh, honey, don’t mind that. It was just some post-nightal drip. I’m taking some pills now that should dry me up. Mmm hmmm. Didn’t mean a thing. Love ya bunches. Kiss, kiss.”

10. Vocabularity

The creation of phrases and terms that can be twisted around to make something humorous out of nothing.

Example Usage: This post.

Peace and love.

And watch out for that Beer-Muda Triangle…

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Scotch the Cat Discusses the Big People and Their Drinking Games

Hi, everybody! It’s me again, playing on Daddy’s toplap because he’s in the Food Room trying to make a breakfast burrito. He’ll be in there a while, because he makes them extra special and puts lots of stuff in them, stuff that I can barely smell before I get shooed away, and it takes him a long time. Plus he has that look he always has in the morning after people stay up way late and sing songs on the patio, stupid songs that don’t have anything to do with cats. He’s moving kind of slow.

But I’m making something special, too, and that’s why I’m typing on the toplap. I need to write a report. I sold some of my cat treats to simple LeeLee Kitty that lives in that blue house, and saved my money until I had enough to start Online School. I cornrowed at DePaw University and now I am doing my very first class. I’m going to be a Jordanist!

That means I write stuff and people pay me when I do it. Well, the paying comes later, after I take all the classes and get to wear a hat with a tail sort of like mine, but not as pretty. That will take a little while. But my confessor says I just need to practice and practice writing about what is going on around me and I will get better. And I have lots of time to practice, like the long part of the Daylight Time when nobody is here to watch me run and knock things over and then pretend that I didn’t. (I checked so see if there were Running and Pretending classes at the DePaw place, but no, so I had to pick something else to be good at.)

So I decided to write my first report about this thing the Daddies do, when they have loud friend people come over and everybody is thirsty. They do this a lot so I understand most of it, but I still get surprised sometimes because I forget things when I go to sleep or a flying bug outside whacks my watching window and makes me pee a little. (Don’t tell Daddy or Daddy that I do little tinkles outside the box, I’m not supposed to but I’m a little jumpy and egg-sight-a-bull and whoops.)

Okay, now I have to check my student intox for emale, because there’s 5 things I have to remember to write about when I report stuff and I already forgot. (This is hard, learning and paying attention and not just laying around and licking my no-more-berries place.) Um, oh it’s this emale here, with the 5 things. Now, it says I have to tell about Who, What, Where, When, Why and How. Okay.

Wait. One, two, three, four… Hey, there are six things here. Why is my confessor talking about 5 when there are 6? (See, I told you this was harder than licking.) I guess I should write about all 6, and if there’s only 5 then I can throw the other page away later. Wow, this is going to take longer than I thought. I better go check on Daddy in the Food Room, make sure he’s not ready to come in here and yell and make me get down.

THUMP-THUMP. Thump, thump, thump, thump. Thump. Pause. Assess situation. Thump, thump, thump, thump, thumpthump, airborne noise, THUMP.

Okay, I think there’s still time. Daddy hasn’t even finished finding all the things for his burrito, and he’s looking for the big white bottle with the head-rake medicine that he sometimes needs when there’s been singing on the patio. Then he’ll need a big glass of water and will probably lay down and watch Golden Grills for a few minutes. (And Other Daddy is counting money and crying a little bit, so he’s busy too.) If I hurry, I think I can get done.

Oh, dang, already stuck. Which of the 5-really-6 do I write about first? Is there a rule? I am always surprised by rules because I just don’t understand them even if I try to. I always get some part of it wrong and then the Daddies have to discuss it and I have to wait longer for my food. Well, I’m just going to pick one and start. The confessor can tell to do it another way if I should, I’m still a little kitty. Okay, um…

WHERE:  I like this one because it’s very easy. Where is here, my house. I’m never anywhere else except my house. (Or the Satan place, with white-coat people pretending to be nice and then BAM, there’s a long stick in my butt and people are taking notes. I don’t like that place and I tell everyone all about my not liking.)

WHO:  My Daddies and some of their always-friends, the really thirsty ones. Oh, and Other Daddy’s Brother. The Brother one doesn’t come over very much, because he lives in Hugh’s Tongue and that’s far away by lots of big water. I don’t want to go places with big water, so it doesn’t matter if Brother has a litter box or not, I’m not going.

But the always-friends I know more better. There’s one lady who wants people to look at her all the time, and if they don’t, she does things to make them look. And there’s the other lady that always smells like lots of different kitties, like me but different. She’s nice to me, but she never brings her kitties over for play-time, so she might be a little mean or her kitties don’t know how to behave like I do. When I want to.

Oh, and there was a man and a lady that just got Mary’d. That means they get to sit really close and groom each other’s faces a lot, while the other people kind of look at other stuff and drink more. It might be nice for me to have a Mary’d friend one day to lick. But I don’t know. Where will she go when I’m done playing with her and want to be alone and stretch in the window? Maybe I’ll understand that part better when I’m older.

WHEN:  Last night. (Wow, that was the easiest part of the 5-really-6. Now I’m halfway done with my news story. I could be very good at this.) But it sure would be nice if the Daddies let me know when there will be drink-singing, so I don’t have to be scared at first when it starts happening. But they never do. I have to find out on my own, and we already know that figuring things out really fast is hard for me.

Usually, I’m just really relaxed, flopped on the kitchen floor, just kind of so-so sticking one of my paws under the Fridge Raider like I lost a puff ball, hoping the Daddies will stop by and pay attention to me by getting the yar stick and whacking around for something that I probably hid somewhere else. (Sometimes I have to wait a long time for the Daddies to pay attention and not just step over me and head to the Treasure Closet for “something to snack on”. They need to be better trained.)

And then BAM, somebody pushes the front door-hell or just walks in the back door, clomping and yelling. Of course I have to claw at the wood floor just trying to get up really fast, and then race to a secure zone. (Mean people could be coming to take my toys or my food or even kill me like that scary movie, Night of the Living Catnip. None of that has ever happened, but you never know around here.)

So I hide and I stay very quiet and I peek out. Once I figure out it’s just time for more drink-singing and not death, I’ll slowly amble out and eventually let people see how cute I am so they can pet me or give me taboo bits of something to gulp down really fast before Daddy can yell “Hey, kitties don’t eat that!” (Daddy can be a little bitchy sometimes.)

WHAT:  People drink lots of stuff from little bottles and big bottles and fancy bottles and bottles that have to be in the Fridge Raider first and bottles that are really boxes with a faucet and bottles that sometimes fall over that make people say loud things and point at each other but nobody is really sure so they just find more bottles.

They eat things, too, stuff that smells good and is in pretty Fee Hesta Ware that the Daddies collect in a cabinet with doors that I can’t open, damn them. But the drinking is very more popular than the food. One of the always-friends told me in the hallway once that you can’t have too much food or you lose your fuzz. That sounds scary, so I’m going to drink more, too.

WHY:  Well, I guess they do it because it’s fun. All the people sure laugh a lot and tell naughty stories and play Tree Via games and know all the words to the songs. When it’s time for people to go home or go nest on one of the couches, they all hug each other and stuff. I don’t think they would do that if drinking was boring and sad, but I don’t always understand people. Like why they have to leave home so much or why they wear pants.

HOWHow sounds like Why to me, so I guess I need to take some more DePaw classes and get smarter so I can finish my reports all the way. I want to get really, really good so I can be on TV and have my own show and wear a beret and meet Pappa Rotzy. And I can write movies and win A-cat-a-me Awards and make my Daddies very proud. I’m so excited. Well, as excited as us cats can get about anything.

Oh, dang! Daddy is coming down the hall right now and he’s gonna use that voice if he sees me typing. I gotta go and destroy the Evan Dense. That means I have to use all of my paws to walk on this keyboard and mess everything up and-



“Get DOWN!”


Thump, thump, thump, thump. Thump. Pause. Claw on leather couch. Thump, thump, thump, thump….

Friday, October 7, 2011

20 Random Thoughts While Desperately Cleaning The House Before Guests Arrive

1. “We are apparently complete and total pigs. Is that peanut butter on the ceiling?”

2. “Cleaning bathroom floors takes a certain will to live.”

3. “It’s really sad when your ‘hide everything in here for now’ drawer progresses to two drawers, then a closet, then the guest bedroom, then your own bedroom, and finally, the saddest place of all, the garage. Because once something goes in there, you will never see it again until you move.”

4. “I can’t confirm what happened on this kitchen floor here, but it looks like David Hasselhoff couldn’t control another cheeseburger.”

5. “Oh, there’s that bill that I swore I never got. Hmmm. Guess I shouldn’t have had that account rep fired.”

6. “I‘m never going in that closet again. I could have died.”

7. “That’s not a dust bunny. That’s a WMD.”

8. “Good, God. Is that really an 8-track player? Right there. Next to the macramé owl, the plaid bell-bottoms, and Jimmy Hoffa.”

9. “Clearly, the concept of cleanliness in this house runs from ‘everything in its place’ to ‘just drop it right here, I‘m done with it’.”

10. “Perhaps it’s better not to know how the underwear got in the toaster oven.”

11. “I would have chosen a totally different career path if someone had sat me down as a youngster and said ‘Cleaning house really, really sucks. Pay more attention in school and make enough money to hire a staff.’”

12. “There’s enough cat toys under this couch to defend a small country.”

13. “Why is there a 30-foot extension cord under this bed? What kind of vibrator needs that much mobility? Does it come with a roll bar?”

14. “That is not a giant pile of dirty laundry. It’s a thoughtful landing pad for falling space debris. Always be prepared.”

15. “Surely the headline on that dusty stack of newspapers does not say Oklahoma Joins the Union!.”

16. “Why am I always finding long hair that doesn’t match any of the known occupants of this house? Is there somebody here that I’ve forgotten about?”

17. “I think something in the fridge has come back to life. I can hear whispering and tiny hammering.”

18. “I wholeheartedly affirm that one day I will tend to the ancient stack of porn magazines in the special drawer. Just not today, it’s too soon.”

19. “Furthermore, I solemnly swear to one day sweep off the patio. There are leaves out there that fell when the Mayflower bumped into Plymouth Rock.”

20. “And finally, I promise to never let the house get this bad again. Ever. But I know that promise is an empty lie, as do the guests just now knocking on the front door, pulling cobwebs from their hair and standing in total darkness because the porch light has been burned out since the first moon landing…”