Wednesday, February 21, 2007

blueberry compote and fireworks: a biannual meeting

I drove to the center of our country today. At 99 miles an hour. Chewing tobacco is primarily a driving hobby for me. Keeps me awake. Keeps me sane as I throttle through frozen corn fields and truck stops. Dodging woodchucks and the cop's drop and Midwestern transvestite hookers who walk balding in high heels along access roads fighting 30mph wind gusts and the gas station attendants who tell me: ", whatever. It walked in here, used the bathroom, and walked back out. Got no damn idea what the hell the story is. We called 911." These are good Christian people who also chew tobacco and hunt deer and wear camouflage jackets.

On the long straight trip from the Kansas City International Airport (with daily flights to Paris) we met the Fireworks Magnate, an honest to goodness Tycoon-Robber Barron who completely looked the part except for the jeans and sweatshirt. Told us we were buying the wrong stuff, the kid's stuff. We were wary of the pitch but soon came to realize he spoke the truth. Owned 52 stores in 10 states. Worth $43 million. That is if we could believe the huge hag of a Midwestern slut who checked us out and gave us $10 in fireworks for free as she copped Ian's knob and jerked on Ryan's chain. I stayed out of it. You can get worts through that kind of contact.

We arrived at the house and played with the kids for a couple hours. Taught them how to gamble some and then Brooke took our money in a cutthroat game of Uno. She has a strong poker face. Bailey refused to play with us. She's kind of snooty. But she did show us her Cinderella (?) magnet things which was cool because Cinderella looks pretty hot in her skivvies.

The Missouri State Wrestling Championship was a nemesis far too young and sinewy for us to challenge, particularly in a blizzard, so we ended up driving around for a while in the snow. We'd head to the the Flat Branch Brewpub and gorged ourselves. Purchased four growlers of brewed-fresh beer and sat awkwardly as Mike Pell heckled our waiter: "That group there, they're gonna to skip out on the check. That's what they do. That's how they make their living. They travel around the middle parts of our fair nation buying growlers and obscene dinners then they dash out the door like so much fart in the wind and you're stuck holding the bag for a cool $200."

"Sir, you're going to have to keep your voice down or I'm going to cut you off."

"Cut me off! CUT ME OFF! I'm a doctor you son of a bitch, this is prescription!"

"Regardless sir, you'll have to take your seat now or I'll call the manager."

"Mike, dude, sit down, you're creating a scence."

"You wanna scene, I'll give you a scene!"

He flipped over the table like it was a child's toy. It knocked his wife clean out of her chair and onto the ground where his hot bowl of tortilla soup proceeded to scald her eyes and she screamed.

He picked up a chair and threw it through the side window and slipped out through the hole like so much fart in the wind.

During the commotion we took the opportunity to skip out on our check. As per the norm. Like so much fart in the wind.

Chris drives fast on the snow covered back roads. They're hilly and curvy and the speed limit's 45mph. He takes it all at a cool 60. He's got a Suburu, all wheel drive. No worries. Ryan drinks most of his growler on the ride home and my knees rub sore on the dashboard.

We gamble until four in the morning. Small stakes. I was down $20 until we started playing blackjack. Cedar the sad one-eyed-dog was good luck for me. I mounted a counterinsurgency. The growlers were gone so we started on the Boulevard Pale Ales and the Schlafly. I had a glass or two of the Evan Williams Single Barrel Bourbon and Ryan took a pull off the bottle.

The kids woke us up the next morning well before noon. Ryan said "Don't let me drink bourbon anymore and don't let me play blackjack drunk." So we made Belgian Waffles and a blueberry compote, eggs, bacon, and fried potatoes. We were, unfortunately, out of beer, so I had to take some bourbon as my digestive. It's a rough life.

We lit off fireworks and played more poker and then made a run to town for provisions. Went to Walmart and Ian took picutres of Fancy-Manhattan Ryan pushing the cart around. Ryan was ashamed. We bought a couple cases of beer and ping pong paddles, balls, and a net. All we had was the table. But if you're only going to have one thing for ping pong, the table should probably be it. We managed to get another meal at Flat Branch because none of the same people were working. We skipped out on that check too.

Snowy back roads and scary driving. We're back at the house. Ryan loses $5 to Ian in ping pong. Mike Pell and Dianna arrive and we play beer pong which I pretty much dominate. We play more poker. We play Oscar which I insist on calling Joachin Phoenix, or just Joachin for short. We light more fireworks. This is when we realize the Fireworks Magnate was right. We should have bought bigger fireworks. I eat some ice cream with the left over blueberry compote on it.

We are drunk. Again.

The next day we take it easy. I enjoy an egg sandwich on a blueberry bagel which is way better than it sounds. We gamble. Chris drinks several beers before 2pm. We decide we need some activity, dammit. Need to flex our muscles. We sneak into the athletic facility and Ian and I lift weights for an hour. That's fucking dedication yo. I haven't missed a workout in a month. Chris kills everyone in racquetball. I really suck at racquetball. We go home and make a massive pasta and sausage dinner and an inordinate amount of salad which no one touches. It was going to be good too: spring greens, cucumbers, red onions, avocado, and crushed pecans. But after you stuff your fat face with pasta and sausage, the salad isn't terribly appetizing.

We gamble until 2am as we finish the last case of beer.

The Mid-Missouri Distinguished Juniata College Alumni Biannual Meeting of Philosophy and Leisure was a success.





Wednesday, February 07, 2007

space debris and my one deep breath

Cramped and covered by whirling space debris, there is no escape. We’ve filled up this earth with crap and now our offal extends into the last frontier. There’s nowhere that’s open, there’s nowhere that’s free, there’s nowhere with wide open windows peering clearly into deep space. It’s cluttered up with junk and I’m claustrophobic and beginning to pant and sweat. Crouching down in a tiny closing box, my chest is tight. I can’t breathe.

I took a trip to Florida once, way out past Key West. The Dry Tortugas are a small group of small islands that sit in the Gulf of Mexico about 50 miles from the nearest electric light. I thought I was getting away from it all. I was but a speck upon a speck upon the deep blue sea, free to feel space all around me. At night we laid on the beach in the sand drinking scotch, the warm sub-tropical waters lapping at our feet. The dark was pure dark. Whole and encompassing. Complete to the horizon. Stars melted together in patches of pale yellow breaking up on the edges. Single brilliant pin pricks of light lived there. The milky way lay draped over it all like lace.

Drunk and sandy we watch the sky for signs of life. But all we see are satellites, streaking through the night.

A single pin prick rattled loose.

They tell us that the critical density of space debris has been reached. 10,000 so-called detectable objects are about to begin a spontaneous ramshackle game of busted billiards until all that’s left is a cloud of dust to envelop the earth. A busted old satellite and an astronaut’s wrench are going to collide in four days, a less than dramatic catalyst for the calamity. Well fuck that man. I don’t want to have anything to do with it. But there’s nowhere else to run. We’re covered in this shit like so much smog laying low on Los Angeles. But unlike the blessed city of angels we can’t just up and leave the cesspool behind, dashing for the Kern River Plateau at 100 miles per hour with a bottle of cold beer in one hand and a fly rod in the other. No. That’s not an option. All we can do is lay back and bask in the crap. There is no escape. Space debris surrounds us.

Laying there on the beach I thought I was free. My chest could finally expand to its full proportion and take in freedom wholeheartedly. But then one rattled loose. And another. They’re blocking my escape. They’re blocking my deep breath.

Monday, February 05, 2007

I have been purified in the waters of Lake Minnetonka

Prince can rock it out. Prior to last night's knock-down drag-out half-time spectacle he was merely the sum total of "Little Red Corvette", "1999", and "Ronnie, Talk to Russia". Needless to say, I've never been terribly impressed with the guy. But virtually everything about his Superbowl performance stoked the spark that feeds the fire for Prince inside me now. In a completely heterosexual way.

He can play the guitar like nobody's business.

He played in a downpour and it didn't phase him. It may have only added to the allure of the performance.

He finished with Purple Rain in the rain.

Dude can sing. There didn't seem to be any backing tracks last night and his ad-libbing was awesome.

The silk screen silhouette shots with his weird guitar made him appear to have a giant pointed cock thus reinforcing the notion that he is a rock and roll juggernaut.

He is a very expressive performer.

He had hip replacement surgery in 2006.

Prince is a consummate professional.

The take home message here is that if you want to ensure your halftime show rocks, even in a downpour, you should hire Prince.

Also, my favorite commercial was the Map Monster.