Tuesday, April 14, 2015


As your master of ceremonies, I've been asked to list all the herbs I can think of.



Ok, there's another one that -- it's like coriander.  Something similar, with a similar sound and letters.  Like, celery, but obviously it's not...

Aaaahh.  Jeez.

Coriander.  Cor...cor.......something with "cor," I feel like.  Or "co" or "cuh."  That's just the one I'm thinking of.  Obviously I know there are others, but I'm hung up on this one......

Let's see.  I'll start over.  "Coriander."  Ok, so I said coriander, and then the second one was........

Wow.  Ok.  Let me try to find another angle to attack this from.

Ladies and gentlemen, please, stop showering me with your disapprobation and with your garbage.  I know you are impatient, and you have every right to be.  It is not helping the process of helping me think of herbs, which is merely the first part of tonight's ceremony.  We have much to get through -- the introducing of the acts, the various transitions.  And that's just my job.  But my job can't begin until I name all the herbs I can think of.  And if I can only think of one, well, technically I can start the show, but I wouldn't be very satisfied with my own performance.  I'm going to need to name, minimum, three herbs before we can proceed.  Does that sound fair?

Coriander!  No, sorry.  Colander?  Calendar?  Was I thinking of calendars?  Or is Calendar also an herb?  Maybe one was named after the other?  Does anyone -- can anyone look that up on their phone or something?

Ok, calendars, listen.  We can move on and forget about naming herbs as long as I can name the months instead.  January, February...uh, pass.  April...August...pass.  November?  One more, and that's it.  If I can name one more month.  What month is it now?  April?  Well, I already got that one.  What was the previous month?  Well, the one before the previous month was February, I remember that.  Pass.  When were you born, miss?  April?  Well, that's this month, isn't it?  Happy coriander.

I've been muttering to myself for sixty minutes?  Well, thank you all for coming.

Wednesday, March 04, 2015


I'd been playing basketball at the rec center with a few other guys.  I played three games and lost them all, even though we kept changing the teams.  In the third game I'd gotten a rebound and tried to pass it out, but no one was where I passed it to and the ball flew into the pond and everyone else made me wade in and get it.  It wasn't that far in but it was the part of the pond where nobody swam and nobody dove in, so I didn't realize how deep it was -- how deep it was, I came to realize, was why nobody ever swam or dove in there.  Very quickly the water got above my waist.  After I got the ball out they wouldn't let me play anymore so I dried myself off with a sweatshirt I found in the back of the car and drove home.

I opened the garage door and there were two deer inside.  One with antlers, one without.  They were just standing in the spot where I needed to park my car, still and serene.  One of them was chewing on something, maybe just air.  I flashed my high beams at them but they didn't move.  I beeped.  They didn't seem too interested in going anywhere.

I backed away and closed them back in.  I didn't have a key, so I couldn't get into the house through the front door.  I drove down to Cumberland Farms and put a quarter in a sticky black payphone just a couple steps away from the gas tanks.  If something exploded, they would have swept me up in a dustpan.

My mom was out of town so I had to call my dad.

"I'm locked out of the house," I said.  "There are deer in the garage."

"What do you mean you're locked out of the house?"

"I don't have a key," I said.  "Should I leave the door open and let them out?"

"Don't leave anything open.  I'm down the road," he said.  "I'll be home in three hours."

"You can't come home before that?"

"No."  He hung up.

I checked on the deer.  They were still in there.  There were three now.  I'd closed the door, so I guess there had always been three.  I closed them back up.  I walked around the house looking for a window I could open or something, but they were all locked.

I walked over to Steve's.  His parents opened the door.  Both of them, for some reason, like they didn't have anything better to do than answer the door.

"Steve is over at Jen's," his mom said.

"He went with a few other people," his dad added.  "We figured you were over there too."

I hadn't been over at Jen's in a while.  It had been a couple weeks since we'd seen each other.  We were breaking up with each other, without confrontation, the easy way -- slow, like boiling a lobster.  Sometimes they go quietly and sometimes they start screaming and pounding on the side of the pot with their claws.

Lobsters, I mean.

But I was locked out and bored and embarrassed and I didn't have anywhere else to go.

Jen's mom answered the door.  She seemed a little surprised to see me.  "Everyone else just left," she said, "but Jen is down in the basement."

I stood there for a while, deciding what to do.  Jen's mom started to look a little worried.  A leaf blew through the door and she chased it down and picked it up and threw it outside.  "All right, I'll come in," I decided.

I shuffled down the stairs into the basement.  Jen was laying on the floor, with a sweatshirt over her eyes.  She had huge headphones over her ears, but they weren't plugged into anything -- the cord just coiled and died halfway to the wall.

She didn't move, she just groaned.

Who knows if she'd even known it was me, but she might have.  By this point we could identify each other by the sound of our steps on a staircase.

"There are deer in my garage," I said.

"I'm pregnant," she said.  The basement was finished, but everything still echoed down there.

"Well..."  I hadn't done anything with her that could get a person pregnant, so I felt ok.

She was wearing a Stone Cold Steve Austin shirt, a few sizes too big for her.  It was probably her brother's, although he was smaller than she was.  The front said "FUCK FEAR," with a skull in place of the U, so it kind of looked like it said "FOCK."  I think the back said "DRINK BEER," but I couldn't see it.

"I'm not pregnant," she said.  "That was a test."

"How'd I do then?"

"It was one of those tests that doesn't have an answer."  She slapped the floor with her hand, like, come on over.

I sat down next to her.  She traced my arm with her fingertips, then shook them out, like something'd stuck.

"What were you guys doing?" I asked.

"Blowing each other," she said.  "Skateboarding.  Playing video games."

"What video games do you have?"

She groaned again.  "I can never tell when you're kidding," she said.  I didn't really know if I was kidding either.  I tried to look into her eyes, meaningfully, if possible, but she wouldn't take the shirt off her face.

"Want me to turn off a light or something?"

"The light isn't the problem," she said.  "The problem is all these fucking objects."

"I could clean up a little if you want."

"That's good, thank you.  Keep saying things that seem like they would make sense."  It made me a little scared, the way she said it.  "For once your rock-headed literalism is helpful."

"I need to use the bathroom," I said.

"All the downstairs bathrooms aren't working," she said.  "You'd have to use the one in my parents' bedroom."

It didn't seem worth it.  I moved a little closer to her, so I could feel her arm on my leg, but she flinched politely and moved just far enough away to be not touching.

"Do you want to see the deer?" I asked.

"All right," she said.  "I don't want to take this shirt off my eyes, though."

"You can take my hand and I'll lead you up to the car."

"Yeah right."

"Fine, then just follow me."

She staggered over to the stairs behind me and pulled herself up with the handrail.  Her parents were in the kitchen when we got upstairs and they glared at me but they didn't say anything.  Jen felt her way over to the front door with one hand on the wall and one hand keeping the sweatshirt over her eyes.

I let her out onto the front porch.  "Don't you want shoes?" I asked.  She was barefoot and they had a gravel driveway.  But she didn't answer, she just stepped down onto the rocks and stepped slowly over to where she figured I'd parked.  I directed her a little bit but she wouldn't have let me touch her to guide her over, so I didn't try.

I started the car and she flipped on the radio.  She knew how the stations were programmed, which I didn't.

"Why don't you take that thing off your face?" I asked.

"I don't want to."

"You're going to have to at some point."

"No I'm not," she said.  "I'm going to claw my eyes out like Clytemnestra."

"That was Oedipus," I said.  "Who's Clytemnestra?"

"Cly-tem-nessss-tra," she said.

We pulled into my driveway and I opened the garage door.  The three deer were still inside, but they were dead.  I stopped the car and got out and checked on them.  They didn't have any bruises or injuries.  I thought they must have gotten into a can of paint or something and poisoned themselves, but I couldn't find anything like that.

Jen was still sitting in her seat.  I opened her door.

"They died," I said.

"Who died?"

"The deer."

"How'd they die?"  Her head was tilted up because she couldn't see where I was, so I was talking to the underside of her chin.

"I don't know.  They must have suffocated, although I don't know how, it's not like the garage is airtight."

"Maybe they just died," she said.

"I guess."

She peeked out from under her shirt, pushing it down sort of over her mouth.  "Where are they?"

I brought her over to see them.  We stood there for a couple seconds, then she picked up a basketball and tried to dribble it, but it was flat, so she just rolled it out the door behind her, onto the grass at the side of the driveway.

I started dragging one of the deer out of the garage.

"What are you doing with that thing?"

"I don't know."

"You should bring it down to the ol' general store," she said.  "You should barter it for some lye and wax and pelts."


"You should cut it open and live inside it.  I'll live inside it.  Both of us, together.  We can make a home of it."

"I guess I'll just drag it into the woods."  Its legs were stiff, which made it easier to hold onto.  Jen went over to one of the other ones and started dragging it out behind me.  I told her I'd do it, but she kept dragging.  She was wearing the sweatshirt around her neck now, tied up like one of those circle scarves.

The deer were weight, heavy weight.  Like gravity worked twice as strong on something dead.  In truth, I was just tired, and deer were probably just heavier than I'd ever given them credit for.

We dragged the third one into the woods together, two legs each.  After that Jen walked off.  I tried to figure out how best to pile them up.  The woods were pretty shallow where we'd dumped them -- the neighbors would definitely see them when they walked out to their car.  It would have taken too much thought to figure out a better way.  The deer were dumped -- that was good enough for now.  At least now I could park.

We'd dragged them right over some of my dad's flowers, I noticed.  He'd be mad about that.  He'd probably tell me how I should have done it -- how I should have chopped up their bodies and put the parts in a suitcase or something like that, making it seem like I was an idiot because I didn't know the proper way to drag a dead deer out of the garage, like, how did I really think I was going to last fifteen minutes in college?

Jen was gone by the time I turned around and stepped out of the woods.  Her sweatshirt was balled up in the middle of the driveway.  I picked it up and got in the car and threw the shirt in the front seat.  I pulled out onto the road and the streetlights snapped on with a shock and a buzz of dumb, blaring, wasted energy.  I figured I'd find her on the road and pick her up and drive her the rest of the way.  I drove back and forth between my place and hers three times, but I couldn't find her.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Photo of Candace Bushnell, author of Lipstick Jungle

"I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?"
- Candace Bushnell, author of Lipstick Jungle

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Photo of Candace Bushnell, author of Lipstick Jungle

"I put on my lipstick as I stepped into the jungle-like environs of New York City.  Hmm, I thought to myself.  Jungle.  Lipstick.  Lipstick Jungle.  I should open a restaurant by that name or"
- Candace Bushnell, author of Lipstick Jungle

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Photo of Candace Bushnell, author of Lipstick Jungle

"As I walked into the snowy streets and looked up at the skyscrapers above me, I only had one thought: truly this is a Lipstick Jungle."- Candace Bushnell, author of Lipstick Jungle

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The poet

I had a girlfriend.  Her name was Amber.  She was unlike others who I'd previously met.  She made me feel feelings that I'd earlier thought were beyond my capacity to experience.  I felt moved to write poetry for her.
My love for her was not a quiet love.  It was boisterous and booming -- a thumping, thrusting, or a shaking love, felt deep within.

I set my pen to the paper and listened to the words that were in my heart.

Baby, I'm so into you.

I sometimes called her "baby," as a term of endearment.  And I wrote the phrase "I'm so into you" to demonstrate how deeply my feelings for her ran: namely, all the way into me.

You got that something, what can I do.

The difficult part of writing poetry is trying to put words to emotions that are inexpressable.  That is what I meant to describe in the second line, which is about my powerlessness in the face of her ineffable positive qualities.

Baby, you stood me around.
The earth is moving, but I can't feel the ground.

All in all, this stanza came together rather quickly.  I simply listened to the inspiration provided by my heart when I thought about the feelings given to me by my darling Amber.  I finished the poem thusly:

You drive me crazy, I just can't sleep.
I'm so excited, I'm in too deep.
Oh-oh-oh crazy, but it feels all right.
Baby thinking of you -- this is what brings me a feeling of great comfort.

I gave the poem to Amber for her birthday.  I hadn't bought a gift, because money was tight for me, but I felt the poem expressed my feelings and was, in a way, more valuable because it came from the heart rather than the store.  I printed it out at the office where I used to work, where my old boss lets me use the printer there sometimes to print out important stuff.

Amber frowned as she read it.  She seemed to skim it very fast, then handed it back to me.  "You missed the last rhyme," she said.

I told her I didn't know what she meant.

"You got the last line wrong," she said.  "'Baby thinking of you keeps me up all night.'  This doesn't even rhyme."

I was a little concerned that the words I'd worked so hard to achieve weren't having their intended effects on her.  "Poetry is a subjective art," I tried to explain, "directed by the heart and the soul, more than formal rules.  Poems don't even have to rhyme -- "

"No."  She was annoyed.  "You got the song wrong."  The song?  "Why are you even giving this to me?" she asked.

"It's a poem," I said.  "I wrote it for you.  I meant for it to express my love -- "

"This is lame, even for you," she said. 

"Once again, I'm confused," I replied in a state of confusion.

"I don't feel like going out tonight."

I walked home in a mood of distress in addition to the aforementioned confusion.  What had I done wrong?  Had I expressed myself too honestly to her?  Was she afraid of comparable feelings stirring in her own breast for me?  Perhaps she was just unable to comprehend feelings and ideas expressed through somewhat complicated and beautifully-written poetry, and so I'd made her feel intellectually inferior to me, or she thought that I was making fun of her somehow.

I got home and tried to call her to apologize, but she didn't pick up the phone.  I called several times and left several messages, but did not receive the courtesy of a reply.  My sympathy for her hardened, and I felt myself overcome with new feelings of resentment and even anger towards her.  I went to bed early that night, trying to put her out of my mind, but found, to my dismay, that the intensity of my love for her was undiminished.

After hours of tossing and turning in my sheets, I realized that sleep was not soon in coming, and I sat down with my notebook and began, once again, to compose.

Baby, can't you see
I'm calling
A girl like you should wear a warning.
It's dangerous
I'm falling

Already my new poem was taking on an angrier tone.  It was the words of someone who felt unfairly scorned.  I was also beginning to experiment with a less rigid form (something which I was less confident Amber would be able to appreciate, after her response to my first poem).

There's no escape
I can't wait
I need a hit
Baby, give me it
You're dangerous
I'm loving it

Here, I expressed my "mixed feelings" for Amber, expressing the positive and negative with alternating lines.  She was a dangerous drug from which I had no escape and which I needed a hit of, but still I asked for more, and even "loved" it.

Too high
Can't come down
Losin' my head
Spinnin' 'round and 'round
Do you feel me now?

These lines accurately reflected the somewhat chaotic workings of my then-current state of mind: confused, hurt, without balance.  This is what I wanted to shout to her: can't you understand me?  What is keeping you from seeing into my heart?  DO YOU FEEL ME NOW?

The taste of your lips
I'm on a ride
You're toxic I'm slippin' under
With a taste of a poison -- what a taste indeed!

I'm addicted to you
Don't you know that you're some kind of insane substance to me?

I knew I had to call her immediately and read her this poem.

This time, she answered.  She sounded like she'd been sleeping -- this is how I'd been able to catch her off-guard.

"I have something to say to you," I said, "and I want you to hear me out to the end."

"All right," she said.

"It's a poem."

"You wrote this poem?"

I read her my new composition.  Over the phone I could hear her sighing repeatedly.  At first this encouraged me to believe I was finally getting through to her.

By the time I finished, my heart was beating wildly.  She must have been able to hear it over the phone.

When she spoke, the tone I detected in her voice was not of appreciation, but of annoyance.  "Do you think I'm an idiot?" she asked.


"You screwed it up again, by the way."

"I wrote it for you," I tried to explain.

"I don't know whether you think so little of me," she said, "or whether you just have some kind of a brain problem.  But this is deeply annoying behavior."

I told her I was just trying to express my most deeply-felt feelings.  I told her my new poem was called "Spellbound: An Addict's Lament."

She laughed and hung up the phone.  She wouldn't return any more of my calls after that.

I felt lost, confused, and hurt.  Why had my poetry been so brutally rejected?  I wanted to take up the pen right away, to prove her wrong, to uncage the poetry which lay there in my heart, beating on the inner walls, screaming to be let out.  But there was nothing inside.  I couldn't hear my own voice -- I could only hear Amber's, like she was pushing me out of my own body.  I felt like a sucked-dry plant.

I thought, she must know how she hurt me, how she played with my heart.  Did she regret it?  Did she get lost in the game?  Or was less innocent than one might at first assume?  Did she lie in bed at night, the lights dead, the silence pressing against her, and regret what she'd done?  Did she feel sorry for the way she hurt me?  Did she drift off to sleep, only to wake up with a shot, gulp down air until she could be sure she was alive, and cry out, in anguish and sorrow, "Oops?"

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Book of Christ

You can now watch the Wild, Aggressive Dog infomercial Book of Christ on the internet.