Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Two Girls (Part I)

Luke couldn't remember the night they met. Until it happened, it had been a conspicuously ordinary evening out at the bars with friends. The only thing he remembered distinguishing it, before his meeting her, was an inexplicable energy. There was an enthusiasm for the night that seemed to bubble and burst from some place so brimming with emotion it was dark and unknowable.

He and his friends Spike and John had started at the apartment, met up with some now-faceless acquaintance they knew vaguely and mutually, whom they had already mostly forgotten. On the walk to the bar they bought a pint of Old Grandad to split in the late September chill that only came when the sun went down. They were giddy in the cold air, with warm bellies and toothy smiles.

By the time they reached the bar, everything was fuzzy and warm. The acrid bourbon had settled in the bottom of his stomach and seemed to fizzle and pop, shooting up lights and heat. It felt like a hard rock that was slowly melting from its own warmth. There was a crackling fire in the old brick fireplace; the dark wood floor glowed like chocolate syrup.

"Let's find some biddies," Spike suggested. The suggestion was moot, though, since finding women was the reason they had come to the bar in the first place. Only one of them, John, had what they could call a real job, and the bar was a sure way to exacerbate their financial situation. But, this was important to Spike, Luke knew. And John could always pick up the tab. He seemed happy to do so, although Luke had guilty suspicions about this that he didn't care to entertain, especially when his funds were low.

Friends since high school, Luke had watched Spike slowly deteriorate since dropping out of college. He had refused a job with his father's firm, whether out of pride or simply pure mischief, Luke did not know. But Spike was an amazing poker player, and made his living playing online. He was just good enough to make some money and not lose too much, if he played every day. Unfortunately, this meant that Spike had to stay home almost all the time, a jail term for somebody who thrived off of human interaction.

Luke moved downstairs to the bathroom, letting his friends buy the drinks and make the first moves, if any moves were to be made that night. Plenty (maybe most) of their nights out had been spent staring at the women they wanted to talk to, making excuses for not doing so: "She's talking to that guy," "She's with all her friends," "She's too old for me," "I'm not drunk enough yet," "I'm too drunk."

When he returned, there she was. The first thing he noticed upon climbing the stairs was her shock of blonde hair curling and waving in the air, even before he reached the top. The hair seemed to float on its own, peeping out at him from behind the top stair, which still concealed her face.

When he did see her face, her huge smile seemed to swallow up everything else. It was remarkable for two reasons: its width, which he thought was pretty normal for a big smile, and its height, completely novel to him and equally attractive. The rather thin lips parted to form a sort of frame for her very large, very perfect teeth. Her adorably small, pointy chin and deep creases below her cheekbones magnified the smile, and made her pretty in a way he'd never seen before. He wondered why that look wasn't more popular.

She and another girl were talking to John and Spike.

To be continued...

Friday, December 7, 2007

25 Cents for a Quarter

INT. Spacious, old-timey ‘Gentleman’s Club’ lounge, complete with leather, mahogany, green lamps, fireplace, and stock-ticker in glass case. Two portly and lavishly dressed businessmen (age 50 or 60, one with gigantic drooping mustache and the other with long, flowing mutton chops) sit in leather chairs smoking cigars, drinks in hand.

Beasworth (in quick, British nasal speech): “You know, Jefferson, I consider myself a shrewd man… extremely shrewd, in fact, but I daresay that your show last week at Teasdale’s really set my toes aloof and my pants on fire. How did you ever get those old boys to cut you in on the orange juice concentrate deal?

Jefferson (in a slow, gruff cadence): Ah, yes, the orange juice deal, quite lucrative, that. We’ll have the Florida barons on their knees in no time. Well, Beasworth, it’s quite simple really. If you’ll be so kind as to let me demonstrate…

B: (Eagerly interrupting) Of course, of course! Oh, I’m getting all giddy, just like our days at the Pickwick Academy! But I digress. Please, do continue.

J: Yes, those certainly were good times, weren’t they Old Cheese? Ah, it’s too bad Fizzybottom couldn’t be here to reminisce with us. (As an aside) Horrid, horrid business he got into with that pork-belly scheme…

B: Yes, yes. But please, Jefferson, I implore you to continue with your fine demonstration.

J: Of course. (Assuming a demonstrative tone) Now, Beasworth, tell me, would you happen to have a quarter in your watch pocket at this current moment?

B: (Indignant) You know that I always keep a Washington-piece in my chrono-purse, should the need arise.

Reaches into vest pocket and reveals a quarter.

J: Now, dear Beasworth, how would you feel if I were to offer you twenty five cents for that verysame quarteroon which you now so gingerly clutch?

B: BAH! Jefferson, I would have to say that I do believe you’ve spent too much time with that mulatto mistress of yours! (Eagerly looks around the room hoping somebody heard the joke, nobody does) She’s got it into your head that there’s free money to be had in this world, (now mumblingly trailing off) although for her, that may be true, for a man of your…

J: To be sure, Beasworth, your decision to renege my offer is a wise one in the current context, quite a textbook reaction. But let me further my argument by telling you that I, at this very moment, also hold a quarter in my breast pocket, by way of the same habit that you admitted to me earlier. Furthermore, I would like to sell it to you for a niggardly twenty-five hundredths of a dollar.

Beasworth Grows silent, contemplative, there is a long pause.

B: (Enthusiastically) Sir, I would like to accept your offer!

The men exchange quarters.

J: (Sighs, chuckles slightly, and shakes his head slowly) I expected a little more from you, my fine-feathered friend. But no, I saw nary a flip of the hat, nor a jostle of the jowls in contemplating this transaction.

B: (Offended, defensive) Now see here! I was not raised by the finest staple-futures speculators in the history of this fine nation to sit here and be mocked by such a low-bred man as yourself! I have it in my right mind to deliver you a swift five kick in the pant! And furthermore, I jostle my jowls inordinately more than most men of my stature could ever dream of!

J: (Smirking deviously) My dear, simple Beasworth, if you would simply pause to consider the situation, I’m sure your jowls will indeed begin to quiver. As you can clearly see, I now in fact have your very-same quarter and you have nothing but the twenty-five cents you so vehemently rejected earlier.

B: Hmmm… (Pauses, clicks tongue repeatedly) Yes… I do see that now. It was a regrettable mistake on my part, a momentary discrepancy. I wish to buy my quarter back, as I must admit a rare moment of lackadaisical haziness. I assure you I shan’t let that happen again, if you would be so kind as to return my heads-and-tails. I believe I do have the twenty-five cents to pay for it.

J: Of course, without hesitation. Simply divulge the fee and the quarter will once again be yours.

Beasworth fumblingly searches through his pockets for 25 cents.

B: Yes, surely I’ll have it somewhere. I usually keep twenty-five cents in my breast pocket, you know, for just such an occasion… Ah, yes, here it is.

He pulls out the same quarter as before after much searching, and the men once again trade quarters.

J: Now, I may remind you, the quarter is in your possession, as it was before, but you have had to pay twenty-five cents for it.

B: (Confusion, then realization slowly coming to his face) Good God, man. How could I have ever been such a fool? No, it is not I who is the fool, but you who are the fiduciary master! We must take this to the streets, post-haste!

They enthusiastically shake hands. “Here, here! Good show!”

EXT. Mid-day. Busy urban street corner. They stand behind a lemonade-stand type construction with hand-painted sign reading: "Quarters - $0.25" complete with crooked and backwards letters. Mobs of people crowd around the stand, frantically shouting and waving money. Overhead shot reveals line of customers stretching around the block.

Spinning newspaper gimmick: Covers of magazines: Forbes, Money, The Economist, Quarters Quarterly, Nickels and Dimes, Stinkin’ Rich, Rollin’ in it, etc. Headlines: “Twenty Five Cents for a Quarter!,” “Jefferson and Beasworth: No Quarter for Competition,” “Could Dimes be Next?,” “Quarter Commerce Cornered,” “Change for a Buck, and for the World.”

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Finer Things

Lord Richard Gladly has been exploring the finer things in life for nearly two and a half decades. Generally regarded as the nation’s foremost authority on all things fine, he has consulted sultans, advised the trend-wise, and instructed the Hollywood-inducted.

In his serialized column, The Finer Things, Mr. Gladly rates and reviews everything from marmalade to wainscoting to haberdasheries, keeping an eye out for what’s finest for you, the Reader.

12th November, 2007: On Candy…

I am no miser when it comes to candy. As with all of my other endeavors, I like to indulge in the finer things. Common candy supplies me with the requisite thrill of the so-called “sugar surge,” but never truly satisfies my need for fineness. Dark chocolate truffles and other exotic uses of the wondrous cacao bean thrill me only temporarily, and while certain Bavarian chocolatiers know just how to tickle my oft-finicky palate, I still find something amiss.

As a connoisseur, I understand that a great deal of the enjoyment I receive from any product is related to the price I pay. As any billionaire can tell you, the rush one gets from paying exorbitantly for a product (especially one that said billionaire later consumes) is beyond comparison. This is why I decided to pick up a Hundred-Thousand-Dollar candy bar at the novelty shop not long ago.

As I paid the urchin behind the sales counter the admittedly high price for this delicacy, his eyes widened, and I was pleased to bask in the admiration he bestowed upon me. It must be a rare occurrence indeed for a man of my social stature to enter this lowly shop and purchase the candy bar to which he is entitled. I daresay, he even tried to give me my money back! Surely he was suffering some sort of feverish spirits.

I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed this $100,000 bar. To call it a confectionary masterpiece would be insufficient. No, there is truly only one word for this sweet combination of “chewy caramel, milk chocolate, and crispy crunchies”: transcendent. The flavors blended together in perfect harmony. Like some sort of divine symphony, the subtle chocolate flavor accentuated the sweet tang of caramel. The crispy crunchies sashayed onto the stage eventually, almost stealing the show with their exhilarating texture.

My one complaint upon first biting into the bar was, clearly, price. I could see why the chocolate bar was so expensive; not everybody should be able to afford such ambrosia. However, I felt that a fairer price would have been fifty-thousand dollars. That, I would gladly pay. Much to my tickled delight, I quickly realized why the sweet costs $100,000: there are two pieces of paradise wrapped up in the packaging! Surely, this is a feat worth the price tag. At this rate, I will be wearing wooden teeth within a fortnight!

Durst I entertain the thought of another? Only time – and my dear coin purse – would tell!


Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Four Square Meals

Color-coded candy drops
Pixie stick gunshots

Oval-tine and round ice cream

Ladyfingers, a stick of gum
Dark, polished plastic plum

Onigiri triangle - cellophane wrapped
Cylinder sushi - tightly packed

Cotton candy, saltwater taffy

Banana boats
Glassy, fizzy floats

Bubble gum tape
Steel wool scrape

You are what you eat
Better make it

Nice 'n neat

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

BART Free for All (Part III)

The first order of business was to get something to eat. We were eager to sample the exotic cuisine that we might find. Perhaps we would find some local specialty we’d never heard of. The Pittsburg station sits atop the freeway, emptying out into a large parking lot that seemed to sweat tar in the heat. On foot, we quickly came to the conclusion that we faced limited food options. There was little by way of amenities to be seen. Grey streets flowed effortlessly to brown hills and distant dark water. It all melted together in the rippling waves of heat.

We walked out of the desolate lot, unsure of our direction, wondering what we were even doing in this hazy land. In the relatively cool shade of an overpass, cars raced by us on their blind approach to the freeway. We strode past food wrappers so old they’d become crunchy, traffic signs so used to being far from sight they seemed larger than life. The scorched earth sent burning tendrils through our shoes and to the bottoms of our feet. When we finally looked up from our contemplative stroll, we found respite. Golden arches glistened in the bright sun.

Bellies full of ground beef and processed cheese food, we gained a certain clarity on our position: we were in a strip mall like any other we’d already seen before. We could tell by the Chuck E. Cheese on the corner. There wasn’t much else to do but walk back to BART and try to rekindle the sense of adventure we’d started with. The simple feeling of movement will usually help to do that, but by the time we got back to the station, it was clear that the current stage of the journey was over. My friends would leave me at MacArthur to return to normal life.

I had no urge or need to do the same as them, so I continued on. I rode to Fremont, found myself another strip mall and a nice patch of grass on the median to lie down on, and smoked a cigarette. I couldn’t understand how I even knew this place was different from Pittsburg. More trees? Greener grass? Smaller parking lot? It didn’t matter; I was gone before I could think about it any more. I was exhausted. Sometimes the simple act of moving from one place to another, no matter how comfortable, can wear a person out. Perhaps it’s a holdover from when we had to get everywhere on foot.

I fell asleep on the train heading north. I woke up at Embarcadero, the first stop in San Francisco. I hadn’t planned on this, but I also hadn’t planned against it. Nothing had changed; I still had nothing better to do. Plus, the nap had refreshed me. There were new and strange people around. An old woman was yelling at a young couple insisting that they should be ashamed of themselves. I wished I had been awake to see why. I wanted the journey to continue and I knew how to make that happen: I’d go to the airport and find my way on to a plane. I was going to keep going.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

BART Free for All (Part II)

BART always had a magical quality for me. Maybe it's because the BART designers' vision of the future was very similar to that of a five-year-old kid. The stations are generally covered in tile, in various shapes, forms, and colors that reflect the different eras during which they were built. It's a quaint try at a beautiful public space in a country that's generally known for shunning such things. Lots of straight lines and symmetrically bumpy surfaces make for an aesthetically pleasing experience, wherever you may end up in the system.

My earliest memory of riding the system is from a field trip I took to San Francisco. There was a surge of energy among my classmates as we saw the train approaching, pushing an exhilarating block of air in front of it. I "got" to ride standing up, watching foreign places and people pass by. It felt like an adventure in my back yard. To this day, I still get some of this feeling when I ride.

The first order of business was to call up some friends. Only the closest of acquaintances could be trusted with such a mission.

"It's a Spare the Air day. Let's go somewhere on BART," I said into the phone.

My friend Sasha indicated that he also had nothing better to do, and agreed to come along. He did want to know, however, what the plan was.

"Let's go to Pittsburg. I've never been there before," I replied.

It was 95° in Berkeley. Having spent a lot of time in the Far East Bay already, I knew it would be at least 105° on the other side of the hills. I steeled myself and boarded the first BART train heading east.

At MacArthur I met up with Sasha and our other friend Mike. They were exactly the kind of guys you'd want to have along for a trip to a place as domestically exotic as Pittsburg. Ruddy-faced and Irish in every sense of the word, Mike has traveled much of the world with little more than a book bag and an outstretched thumb. Emotionally intense, Sasha is a loose cannon with a decidedly Russian flair for the dramatic.

We avoided the suffocating heat in our BART train's cool, A/C-blasted interior. Looking out at the parched grassy hills that mark the region, I put my hand to the window and felt an odd mixture of icy air combined with an almost animate warmth emanating from outside.

Orinda, Lafayette, Walnut Creek, and Concord whizzed by. Then, we passed the limits of the area that was familiar to me and entered the unknown. The heat was still rising, and I almost dreaded leaving the luxurious car. Soon the Delta appeared to our left, and we saw the Orwellian landscape that marks that area. Gigantic refineries and inexplicably complex industrial machinery dotted the landscape; everything outside looked faded and brown, and spaced impossibly far apart. We had arrived in Pittsburg.

To be continued...

Monday, October 15, 2007

BART Free for All (Part I)

It was a summer day, one of the very hottest of the year. I think it was mid-July, during a heat wave that people still recount. I had very little to do. I was living in a student coop north of the UC Berkeley campus. It was hot and stuffy in my spacious but, shall we say, “alternative” room. The walls were all painted different colors, adorned with the remnants of previous residents’ artistic endeavors. There was an inexplicably placed sink in the corner, by my bed.

I decided to take a walk downtown, as I was prone to do at the time, when I had nothing better to do. When I approached the Downtown Berkeley BART station, which looks like an unfinished circular scaffolding, I immediately realized that this was not going to be an ordinary walk. As was the case the day before, it was a “Spare the Air” day. I could ride BART free of charge.

Now, let me explain something here: for those of you who may not be from the San Francisco Bay Area, BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) is a rail system that runs throughout the Bay Area, linking far-flung communities that would otherwise have very little in common. Destinations as distinct as Fremont and San Francisco are connected by one solid rail line. In the more suburban or rural areas, the rail runs above ground; in other cities, it would probably be called the “El.” In San Francisco, and some of the more urban areas (like downtown Berkeley), BART runs underground, like a subway.

Explanations aside, BART is a very “futuristic” system. I put the word in quotes because it’s a vision of the future that dates back to the late 60s, perhaps the early 70s. The cars exude what must have been a distinctly modern design at the time they were built. Today, however, they give the impression of a run-down experiment, like something the Soviets must have toyed with during their glory days.

It didn't take long for me to realize that I had the system to myself. It was to be my playground for one short day. I knew this was my opportunity to better get to know that slice of the future from the past, and I wasn't going to miss it. The system's intricacies, hidden treasures, and many destinations were mine to find.

To be continued...

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Hey, Check Out This Awesome New Show I Just Discovered Called The O.C.

So there’s this new show, I think it’s on FOX (I don’t really know because I’ve just been watching the DVDs; DVDs are really the only way to go) and it’s called The O.C. You should check it out, I think you’d really like it, because I’m pretty sure it’s gonna be one of those shows that everybody will be talking about. I have a really good feeling about this one.

OK, so how do I even start to describe it to you? Well, I think people are going to say that it’s like Beverly Hills 90210 (which was a show about high school kids that was pretty cool except for the fact that it was sooo 80s and people wore like hot pink and turqoise... gross) but it’s way cooler than that show because it’s set in Orange County (that’s where “O.C.” comes from) and not wherever that other show was supposed to take place.

At first I was skeptical about a show set in Orange County because I’ve been there and in real life it’s not that cool, I mean all that’s there is like Disneyland and the whole area looked pretty run down. But I guess they must be talking about another part of Orange County that’s really nice and filled with white people called Newport. That’s the name of the town everybody lives in.

The show is kinda centered around this one family, I forget their name right now, but there’s a mom and a dad and two sons. But the thing is one of the sons (Ryan) is like adopted because he was a bad kid back home (he’s from Chino). Him and his brother were in to stealing cars and they went to jail but Sandy (the dad) came and saved Ryan and took him in, but not his brother because he was a bad seed or something. I don’t know, I never saw the first episode but that’s what my friend who brought over the DVDs said.

Sandy is Jewish but he’s really cool. He’s got big eyebrows. The mom (I forget her name) isn’t Jewish, but they get along better than you might expect. But Sandy is a lawyer and he’s always fighting with the mom’s dad, Caleb, who’s this really rich and powerful guy. Seth is their real son, and he’s also Jewish and he’s really funny. This one time he had like two different girls after him and he didn’t know what to do and there was like a huge drama that came out of it. But he’s still funny. There’s lots of drama in the O.C.

And there’s this girl named Melissa or Marissa and she’s really hot but she has feelings too. Her mom, Julie Cooper is this huge mega-bitch, but after a while she grows on you. Ryan is always going after Melissa, or she’s going after him and they’re both hot so it works out pretty good, except for this one time when she became an alcoholic and Ryan wasn’t down for that because he came to the O.C. to get away from that sort of thing. He was like raised on the streets.

There was this one really dramatic scene where they get pulled over and she’s trashed and they come really close to getting caught by the police but don’t. Ryan got really pissed off and yelled and then got real quiet and almost whispered like he does sometimes; it was super dramatic.

That’s about it. I heard there’s a second season now, but I haven’t seen it yet. If you ask me, wait until it comes out on DVD. *Wink*

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Space Hoax!

A Scholarly Treatise on the Space Question

In all of Mankind’s storied history, no feat has been more admired, more uniting, or more ‘shit-in-my-mouth-and-call-it-chocolate-ice-cream’ than the so-called exploration of outer space, the ultimate achievement in global conspiracy. Not since McDonalds (a company that has not once, mind you, formed anything close to a hip hop dance crew) claimed to have "served" billions have the American people been so disenfrenchfriesed. That’s right, even the french fries are in on this one.

In the entire history of the worldwide space program, about 500 men and women have allegedly traveled beyond the limits of our planet. That’s 500 Tang-chugging, shuttle-shoving, backwards-counting rocket-jockeys telling the other 6 billion people on the planet about what lies beyond the limits of their atmosphere.

Some call it "science" (note that my use of quotes in no way implies that I am actually quoting anyone; they are, however, accompanied by sufficiently sarcastic animated "Air Quotes"). I would have to define it differently, and when I do, I will stress the power of the word by ending both this sentence and this paragraph with the very same afore-mentioned word itself (in bold, no less!): Fakery!

Are we to trust these prancing privileged pansies as they mince about on a blurry black and white TV screen with a starched American flag that’s about as stiff as the drinks they’re making backstage? Who are these people anyway? Have you ever met an astronaut? Didn’t think so.

That’s because they only associate with other astronauts. They go to astronaut restaurants, they only watch astronaut movies, and of course they hold memberships to those oh-so-exclusive astronaut country clubs. “Hey Buzzy, toss me another tall boy!” “Coming right up, Chad!” Ya, there would be some douchebag named Chad, all in his pink polo and yellow shorts, and he would totally call Buzz Aldrin "Buzzy." That’s their style. Pricks.

Perhaps you still aren’t convinced of the thinly-veiled atrocities that have occurred? Let me direct your attention to another tasty tidbit that the "rocket scientists" over at NAmby-pamby SAboteurs would prefer to keep under wraps. The Van Allen Belt is a band of high energy particles trapped in the Earth's magnetic field. Radiation from these belts could kill any astronaut passing through. As can be seen in Figure 1, this belt surrounding the Earth would present a fiery, fast-paced, and generally rockin’ riff between Man and the Stars.

Unless the astronauts could somehow ‘Jump’ this ‘Panama’ canal of radiation at ‘The Top of the World [Cassette Single]’, the intense gamma-ray pummeling would have old Buzzy screaming “You Really Got Me!” at the top of his lungs. Nevertheless, the rules of rock guitar and hard rock in general would be forever changed.

So, if you are still going to put your trust in a group of people who get a kick out of shoving their rockets into moons, I only ask one thing of you. Consider this: people used to believe in the Holocaust too. Once people let themselves be stripped of independent thinking and follow the group mentality, it’s Berlin 1939 all over again. And nobody wants another Holocaust that never happened.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Ode to Lambert

An Ode to Lambert

Gray and small
And oh so sweet,
Lambert’s presence
Was a furry treat

From her room he fashioned
His proud feline lair
And guests he welcomed
With a dewy stare

He scaled blue jeans
With a toothy smile
And meowed bloody murder
The whole damn while

His voice was raspy,
An endearing bleat
Yet he made no excuses
For this falsetto feat

When he shook his toush
It was too cute for words
As over his box,
He laid cute kitten turds

He wore a cashmere sweater
In a stunning azure
He stayed very warm
Of that, I am sure

Under covers he slept
With one eye open
Peeking out from beneath
His devotion unbroken

He hobbled and tripped
Through his tragically short life
But he never balked
At his bodily strife

We could all learn from Lambert
Some seemingly great lesson
But why not just remember
The cat’s genuine impression?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


Get ready for a cheesy good time with the all new BRATZ Ratz! They're decked out in the latest Ratz fashions and ready to take on those steamy sewer nights. Candi flaunts her ravishing rodent style with ratty-licious outfits and accessories. You can get Candi ready for the rat rave: pull on the pretty pink halter top and booty shorts. Don't forget the G-string; pull it up as far as you can! Glue on the stripper nails and lay the lipstick on thick… fucking disgusting! Your BRATZ Ratz will really put the "squeak" back in chic!

  • Includes Ratz brush and comb set, for real delousing action!
  • Comes with rodent-sized "grill" for front teeth
  • BRATZ Ratz are real, living rats, but you'll make them wish they were dead!
  • Warning: Do not touch BRATZ Ratz… ever
  • Also available:
    • BRATZ Catz
    • BRATZ Dawgz
    • BRATZ Batz
    • BRATZ Roachez
    • All-new BRATZ Turdz (with Real Toilet Flava™)

Tuesday, October 9, 2007


Monte Carlo. Fine espresso. High stakes and low-cut dresses. Fast cars, rare caviars and tucked-away bars.

Classy; sophisticated; iconic, yes. But take a moment to peel back the perfectly sun-bronzed exterior and you'll find an Alex you never expected. Like a frozen stick of butter, Alex is hard, but begs to be softened. He melts in your heart — and stays there.

The cake is free today, so eat it too. The world is your oyster; come get your pearl. Alex: pure inspiration, at the drop of a hat.


1. speech too pompous for an occasion; pretentious words.